Functional comparison of transactivation by simian immunodeficiency virus from rhesus macaques and human immunodeficiency virus type 1
Journal of Virology
Simian immunodeficiency virus from rhesus macaques (SIVmac), like human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), encodes a transactivator (tat) which stimulates long terminal repeat (LTR)-directed gene expression. We performed cotransfection assays of SIVmac and HIV-1 tat constructs with LTR-CAT reporter plasmids. The primary effect of transactivation for both SIVmac and HIV-1 is an increase in LTR-directed mRNA accumulation. The SIVMTc tat gene product partially transactivates an HIV-1 LTR,
... an HIV-1 LTR, whereas the HIV-1 tat gene product fully transactivates an SIVmac LTR. Significant transactivation is achieved by the product of coding exon 1 of the HIV-1 tat gene; however, inclusion of coding exon 2 results in a further increase in mRNA accumulation. In contrast, coding exon 2 of the SIVmaC tat gene is required for significant transactivation. These results imply that the tat proteins of SIVmac and HIV-1 are functionally similar but not interchangeable. In addition, an in vitro-generated mutation in SIVmac tat disrupts splicing at the normal splice acceptor site at the beginning of coding exon 2 and activates a site approximately 15 nucleotides downstream. The product of this splice variant stimulates LTR-directed gene expression. This alternative splice acceptor site is also used by a biologically active provirus with an efficiency of approximately 5% compared with the upstream site. These data suggest that a novel tat protein is encoded during the course of viral infection.