Research Articles

HTLV-I Tax protein stimulation of DNA binding of bZIP proteins by enhancing dimerization

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Science  15 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5132, pp. 395-399
DOI: 10.1126/science.8211160

Abstract

The Tax protein of human T cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-I) transcriptionally activates the HTLV-I promoter. This activation requires binding sites for activating transcription factor (ATF) proteins, a family of cellular proteins that contain basic region-leucine zipper (bZIP) DNA binding domains. Data are presented showing that Tax increases the in vitro DNA binding activity of multiple ATF proteins. Tax also stimulated DNA binding by other bZIP proteins, but did not affect DNA binding proteins that lack a bZIP domain. The increase in DNA binding occurred because Tax promotes dimerization of the bZIP domain in the absence of DNA, and the elevated concentration of the bZIP homodimer then facilitates the DNA binding reaction. These results help explain how Tax activates viral transcription and transforms cells.