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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Genetic characterization of transactivation of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 promoter: Binding of Tax to Tax-responsive element 1 is mediated by the cyclic AMP-responsive members of the CREB/ATF family of transcription factors.

To achieve a better understanding of the mechanism of transactivation by Tax of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 Tax-responsive element 1 (TRE-1), we developed a genetic approach with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We constructed a yeast reporter strain containing the lacZ gene under the control of the CYC1 promoter associated with three copies of TRE-1. Expression of either the cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) or CREB fused to the GAL4 activation domain (GAD) in this strain did not modify the expression of the reporter gene. Tax alone was also inactive. However, expression of the reporter gene was induced by coexpression of Tax and CREB. This effect was stronger with the GAD-CREB fusion protein. Analysis of different CREB mutants with this genetic system indicated that the C-terminal 92 amino acid residues, which include the basic domain and the leucine zipper, are necessary and sufficient to mediate transactivation by Tax. To identify cellular proteins binding to TRE-1 in a Tax-dependent manner, this strain was also used to screen a library of human cDNAs fused to GAD. Of five positive clones isolated from 0.75 x 10(6) yeast colonies, four were members of the CREB/activating transcription factor (ATF) family: CREB, two isoforms of the cyclic AMP-responsive element modulator (CREM), and ATF-1. Interestingly, these three proteins can be phosphorylated by protein kinase A and thus form a particular subgroup within the CREB/ATF family. Expression of ATF-2 in S. cerevisiae did not activate TRE-1 in the presence of Tax. This shows that in a eukaryotic nucleus, Tax specifically interacts with the basic domain-leucine zipper region of ATF-1, CREB, and CREM. The fifth clone identified in this screening corresponded to the Ku autoantigen p70 subunit. When fused to GAD, the C-terminal region of Ku was able to activate transcription via TRE-1 but this activation was not dependent on Tax.[1]


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