Research reports. Trans-dominant Tat mutants with alterations in the basic domain inhibit HIV-1 gene expression

N. Modesti, J. Garcia, C. Debouck, M. Peterlin, R. Gaynor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The Tat protein of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is required for efficient viral gene expression. By means of mutational analyses, several domains of the Tat protein that are required for complete activation of HIV-1 gene expression have been defined. These include an amino-terminal activating domain, a cysteine-rich dimerization domain, and a basic domain important in the binding of Tat to the trans-activation response element (TAR) and in Tat nuclear localization. Recently, we described a mutation, known as Δtat, which resulted in a protein with a truncated basic domain. This protein had a ''trans-dominant'' phenotype in that it inhibited wild-type Tat activation of the HIV-1 LTR. To further characterize the requirements for generating a Tat trans-dominant phenotype, we constructed a variety of Tat proteins with truncations or substitutions in the basic domain. A number of these proteins showed a trans-dominant phenotype. These Tat mutants also inhibited activation of the HIV-1 LTR by a protein composed of Tat fused to the prokaryotic R17 (phage MS2) RNA-binding protein in which the R17 recognition element was inserted in the HIV-1 LTR in place of TAR. Thus, an intact TAR element was not required for this inhibition. We also studied the cellular localization of Tat and a trans-dominant Tat mutant by means of immunofluorescence staining with the use of antibodies reactive to different domains of the Tat protein. The results indicated that Tat becomes localized predominantly in the nucleus both in the presence and absence of the trans-dominant Tat construct, suggesting that the trans-dominant mutant does not inhibit Tat nuclear localization. These studies further define the requirements for the creation of trans-dominant Tat mutants, and suggest that the mechanism of trans-dominant Tat inhibition may be either the formation of an inactive complex between wild-type and mutant Tat or sequestration of cellular factors involved in regulating HIV-1 gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-768
Number of pages10
JournalNew Biologist
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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