Recruitment of a protein complex containing Tat and cyclin T1 to TAR governs the species specificity of HIV-1 Tat.
Human cyclin T1 (hCycT1), a major subunit of the essential elongation factor P-TEFb, has been proposed to act as a cofactor for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Tat. Here, we show that murine cyclin T1 (mCycT1) binds the activation domain of HIV-1 Tat but, unlike hCycT1, cannot mediate Tat function because it cannot be recruited efficiently to TAR. In fact, overexpression of mCycT1, but not hCycT1, specifically inhibits Tat-TAR function in human cells. This discordant phenotype results from a single amino acid difference between hCycT1 and mCycT1, a tyrosine in place of a cysteine at residue 261. These data indicate that the ability of Tat to recruit CycT1/P-TEFb to TAR determines the species restriction of HIV-1 Tat function in murine cells and therefore demonstrate that this recruitment is a critical function of the Tat protein.
Bieniasz, PD; Grdina, TA; Bogerd, HP; Cullen, BR
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