Exon 1 leader sequences downstream of U5 are important for efficient human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gene expression
Journal of Virology
In previous studies, little attention has been paid to maintaining the native HIV-1 leader sequence in reporter constructs analyzing the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) promoter activity. To investigate a possible influence of the leader sequence on HIV-1-driven gene expression in the presence as well as in the absence of Tat, an expression vector was designed for transcripts consisting of the native HIV-1 tat 1.4 mRNA leader followed by the open reading frame for the bacterial
... amphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT). Deletion mutants with mutations within the leader sequence downstream of U5 (lsdU5) were constructed, as well as a mutant containing a mutation with a reverse orientation of this region. Quantification of CAT protein in HeLa-T4 ؉ cells transiently transfected with wild-type and mutant leader constructs showed that the exon 1-derived lsdU5 region has an influence on basal as well as Tat-induced protein expression. The dramatic decrease in the level of CAT protein upon deletion of lsdU5 was paralleled by a drop in the steady-state level of CAT mRNA. Deletion of the exon 1-derived lsdU5 region also decreased the expression of mRNAs containing authentic HIV-1 sequences instead of CAT. The effect observed with the reporter constructs was not due to the loss of binding sites for nuclear factors, as could be shown with DBF1 and Sp1 mutant constructs. Nuclear run-on transcription assays showed that the presence or absence of lsdU5 did not influence the rate of transcription. This indicates that the exon 1 lsdU5 element functions at the posttranscriptional level in the processing, nucleocytoplasmic export, or stabilization of HIV-1 transcripts.