Tat-SF1 Is Not Required for Tat Transactivation but Does Regulate the Relative Levels of Unspliced and Spliced HIV-1 RNAs

Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2009; 4(5):e5710. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005710
Source: PubMed


HIV-1 relies on several host proteins for productive viral transcription. HIV-1 Tat-specific factor 1 (Tat-SF1) is among these cofactors that were identified by in vitro reconstituted transcription reactions with immunodepleted nuclear extracts. At the onset of this work, the prevailing hypothesis was that Tat-SF1 was a required cofactor for the viral regulatory protein, Tat; however, this had not previously been formally tested in vivo.
To directly address the involvement of Tat-SF1 in HIV-1 gene expression, we depleted Tat-SF1 in HeLa cells by conventional expression of shRNAs and in T- Rex -293 cells containing tetracycline-inducible shRNAs targeting Tat-SF1. We achieved efficient depletion of Tat-SF1 and demonstrated that this did not affect cell viability. HIV-1 infectivity decreased in Tat-SF1-depleted cells, but only when multiple rounds of infection occurred. Neither Tat-dependent nor basal transcription from the HIV-1 LTR was affected by Tat-SF1 depletion, suggesting that the decrease in infectivity was due to a deficiency at a later step in the viral lifecycle. Finally, Tat-SF1 depletion resulted in an increase in the ratio of unspliced to spliced viral transcripts.
Tat-SF1 is not required for regulating HIV-1 transcription, but is required for maintaining the ratios of different classes of HIV-1 transcripts. These new findings highlight a novel, post-transcriptional role for Tat-SF1 in the HIV-1 life cycle.

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    • "The comparison of our results with those observed for the other HIV-1 Tat cofactor, Tat-SF1 (which was also identified by in vitro reconstituted transcription reactions with immunodepleted extracts), is interesting. In recent work, we show that depletion of Tat-SF1 by gene silencing did not affect basal or Tat-dependent transcription from an HIV-1 CAT reporter in HeLa and HEK293 cells [66]. These data contradict the results obtained by Caputi and coworkers, which have recently reported that down-regulation of Tat-SF1 by siRNAs induces a decrease in transcription and Tat-mediated activation of an HIV-1 reporter minigene in HEK293 cells [67]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Control of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) release from pausing has been proposed as a checkpoint mechanism to ensure optimal RNAPII activity, especially in large, highly regulated genes. HIV-1 gene expression is highly regulated at the level of elongation, which includes transcriptional pausing that is mediated by both viral and cellular factors. Here, we present evidence for a specific role of the elongation-related factor TCERG1 in regulating the extent of HIV-1 elongation and viral replication in vivo. We show that TCERG1 depletion diminishes the basal and viral Tat-activated transcription from the HIV-1 LTR. In support of a role for an elongation mechanism in the transcriptional control of HIV-1, we found that TCERG1 modifies the levels of pre-mRNAs generated at distal regions of HIV-1. Most importantly, TCERG1 directly affects the elongation rate of RNAPII transcription in vivo. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that TCERG1 regulates HIV-1 transcription by increasing the rate of RNAPII elongation through the phosphorylation of serine 2 within the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of RNAPII and suggest a mechanism for the involvement of TCERG1 in relieving pausing. Finally, we show that TCERG1 is required for HIV-1 replication. Our study reveals that TCERG1 regulates HIV-1 transcriptional elongation by increasing the elongation rate of RNAPII and phosphorylation of Ser 2 within the CTD. Based on our data, we propose a general mechanism for TCERG1 acting on genes that are regulated at the level of elongation by increasing the rate of RNAPII transcription through the phosphorylation of Ser2. In the case of HIV-1, our evidence provides the basis for further investigation of TCERG1 as a potential therapeutic target for the inhibition of HIV-1 replication.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Retrovirology
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    • "Most of the previous work on Tat-SF1 has focused on in vitro immunodepletion experiments of nuclear extracts. Other studies have demonstrated that RNAi-mediated suppression of Tat-SF1 inhibited HIV-1 replication in the HeLa-derived TZM-bl reporter cell line [8,18], mediated by a disruption to splicing of viral transcripts [18]. However, it was unknown whether this protein functions as an HDF in cells that are a natural target of HIV and, if so, whether the long-term impact of suppressing Tat-SF1 adversely affects these cells. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Conventional anti-HIV drug regimens targeting viral enzymes are plagued by the emergence of drug resistance. There is interest in targeting HIV-dependency factors (HDFs), host proteins that the virus requires for replication, as drugs targeting their function may prove protective. Reporter cell lines provide a rapid and convenient method of identifying putative HDFs, but this approach may lead to misleading results and a failure to detect subtle detrimental effects on cells that result from HDF suppression. Thus, alternative methods for HDF validation are required. Cellular Tat-SF1 has long been ascribed a cofactor role in Tat-dependent transactivation of viral transcription elongation. Here we employ sustained RNAi-mediated suppression of Tat-SF1 to validate its requirement for HIV-1 replication in a CD4+ T cell-derived line and its potential as a therapeutic target. Results shRNA-mediated suppression of Tat-SF1 reduced HIV-1 replication and infectious particle production from TZM-bl reporter cells. This effect was not a result of increased apoptosis, loss of cell viability or an immune response. To validate its requirement for HIV-1 replication in a more relevant cell line, CD4+ SupT1 cell populations were generated that stably expressed shRNAs. HIV-1 replication was significantly reduced for two weeks (~65%) in cells with depleted Tat-SF1, although the inhibition of viral replication was moderate when compared to SupT1 cells expressing a shRNA targeting the integration cofactor LEDGF/p75. Tat-SF1 suppression was attenuated over time, resulting from decreased shRNA guide strand expression, suggesting that there is a selective pressure to restore Tat-SF1 levels. Conclusions This study validates Tat-SF1 as an HDF in CD4+ T cell-derived SupT1 cells. However, our findings also suggest that Tat-SF1 is not a critical cofactor required for virus replication and its suppression may affect cell growth. Therefore, this study demonstrates the importance of examining HIV-1 replication kinetics and cytotoxicity in cells with sustained HDF suppression to validate their therapeutic potential as targets.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Virology Journal
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    • "The association with both elongation and splicing factors has led to the suggestion that factors such as Tat-SF1 can couple these two processes (Chen et al., 2009; Kim et al., 1999; Miller et al., 2009). Tat-SF1 has been shown to be associated with other transcription regulators such as Tat-CT1 and the transcription– splicing coupling factor, CA150 (Zhou et al., 1998). "
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    ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the etiological agent of AIDS. Chronic persistent infection is an important reason for the presence of "latent cell populations" even after Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). We have analyzed the effect of ATP analogs in inhibiting cdk9/T1 complex in infected cells. A third generation drug named CR8#13 is an effective inhibitor of Tat activated transcription. Following drug treatment, we observed a decreased loading of cdk9 onto the HIV-1 DNA. We found multiple novel cdk9/T1 complexes present in infected and uninfected cells with one complex being unique to infected cells. This complex is sensitive to CR8#13 in kinase assays. Treatment of PBMC with CR8#13 does not kill infected cells as compared to Flavopiridol. Interestingly, there is a difference in sensitivity of various clades to these analogs. Collectively, these results point to targeting novel complexes for inhibition of cellular proteins that are unique to infected cells.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Virology
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