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Latency profiles of full length HIV-1 molecular clone variants with a subtype specific promoter

Author(s): van der Sluis Renée | Pollakis Georgios | van Gerven Marja | Berkhout Ben | Jeeninga Rienk

Journal: Retrovirology
ISSN 1742-4690

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 73;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background HIV-1 transcription initiation depends on cellular transcription factors that bind to promoter sequences in the Long Terminal Repeat (LTR). Each HIV-1 subtype has a specific LTR promoter configuration and even minor sequence changes in the transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) or their arrangement can impact transcriptional activity. Most latency studies have focused on HIV-1 subtype B strains, and the degree to which LTR promoter variation contributes to differences in proviral latency is therefore largely unknown. Latency differences may influence establishment and size of viral reservoirs as well as the possibility to clear the virus by therapeutic intervention. Results We investigated the proviral transcriptional latency properties of different HIV-1 subtypes as their LTRs have unique assemblies of transcription factor binding sites. We constructed recombinant viral genomes with the subtype-specific promoters inserted in the common backbone of the subtype B LAI isolate. The recombinant viruses are isogenic, except for the core promoter region that encodes all major TFBS, including NFκB and Sp1 sites. We developed and optimized an assay to investigate HIV-1 proviral latency in T cell lines. Our data show that the majority of HIV-1 infected T cells only start viral gene expression after TNFα activation. Conclusions There were no gross differences among the subtypes, both in the initial latency level and the activation response, except for subtype AE that combines an increased level of basal transcription with a reduced TNFα response. This subtype AE property is related to the presence of a GABP instead of NFκB binding site in the LTR.

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