HIV-1 structural gene expression requires the binding of multiple Rev monomers to the viral RRE: implications for HIV-1 latency.
Expression of the structural proteins of HIV-1 requires the direct interaction of the viral Rev trans-activator with its cis-acting RNA target sequence, the Rev response element or RRE. Here, we demonstrate that this specific RNA-binding event is, as expected, mediated by the conserved arginine-rich motif of Rev. However, we also show that amino acid residues located proximal to this basic domain that are critical for in vivo Rev function are dispensable for sequence-specific binding to the RRE. Instead, these sequences are required for the multimerization of Rev on the viral RRE target sequence. The observation that Rev function requires the sequential binding of multiple Rev molecules to the RRE provides a biochemical explanation for the observed threshold effect for Rev function in vivo and suggests a molecular model for the high incidence of latent infection by HIV-1.
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