Expression and characterization of the trans-activator of HTLV-III/LAV virus

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Science  21 Nov 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4779, pp. 988-992
DOI: 10.1126/science.3490693


The human T-lymphotropic retrovirus HTLV-III/LAV encodes a trans-activator that increases viral gene expression. We expressed this trans-activator in animal cells and studied its structural and functional characteristics. The putative trans-activator protein was immunoprecipitated from overproducing stable cell lines and shown to migrate as a 14-kilodalton polypeptide on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels. S1 nuclease mapping experiments showed that the trans-activator increases the levels of steady-state messenger RNA transcribed from the viral long terminal repeat promoter. Sequences within the R region of the HTLV-III/LAV long terminal repeat are essential for trans-activation. Quantitations of messenger RNA and protein showed that the protein increase was greater than the messenger RNA increase in CV1 and HeLa cells, indicating that more than one mechanism was responsible for the trans-activation and that cell type-specific factors may determine the final level of trans-activation.