Trans-activation of human immunodeficiency virus occurs via a bimodal mechanism.
A novel, highly quantitative transient expression assay based on the human interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene was used to examine the trans-activation of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/HTLV-III/LAV/ARV) long terminal repeat (LTR) in a range of eukaryotic cell lines. In the absence of the trans-activating viral gene product, tat-III, IL-2 transcripts specific for the HIV LTR were present in low abundance in transfected cells and showed a low translational efficiency, when compared with IL-2 mRNAs transcribed from other viral promoters. Coexpression of tat-III resulted in a marked increase in the steady state level of IL-2 mRNAs transcribed from the HIV LTR, and these mRNAs also demonstrated a specific enhancement of their translational efficiency. These results suggest a bimodal mechanism of action for tat-III in the trans-activation of HIV-specific gene expression.
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