Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gene expression is primarily regulated at the step of transcription elongation. The viral Tat protein recruits the Positive Transcription Elongation Factor b (P-TEFb) and the Super Elongation Complex (SEC) to the HIV promoter and enhances transcription by host RNA polymerase II.Results: To map residues in the cyclin box of cyclin T1 that mediate the binding of P-TEFb to its interacting host partners and support HIV transcription, a pool of N-terminal cyclin T1 mutants was generated. Binding and functional assays in cells identified specific positions in cyclin T1 that are important for (i) association of P-TEFb with Hexim1, Cdk9 and SEC/AFF4 (ii) supporting Tat-transactivation in murine cells and (iii) inhibition of basal and Tat-dependent HIV transcription in human cells. Significantly, a unique cyclin T1 mutant where a Valine residue at position 107 was mutated to Glutamate (CycT1-V107E) was identified. CycT1-V107E did not bind to Hexim1 or Cdk9, and also could not assemble on HIV TAR or 7SK-snRNA. However, it bound strongly to AFF4 and its association with HIV Tat was slightly impaired. CycT1-V107E efficiently inhibited HIV replication in human T cell lines and in CD4(+) primary cells, and enforced HIV transcription repression in T cell lines that harbor a transcriptionally silenced integrated provirus.Conclusions: This study outlines the mechanism by which CycT1-V107E mutant inhibits HIV transcription and enforces viral latency. It defines the importance of N-terminal residues of cyclin T1 in mediating contacts of P-TEFb with its transcription partners, and signifies the requirement of a functional P-TEFb and SEC in mediating HIV transcription.
- HIV latency
- Positive Transcription Elongation Factor b
- Super Elongation Complex
- Transcription repression