Activation of HIV-1 requires the binding of host cell transcription factors to cis elements in the proviral long terminal repeat (LTR). This study identifies c-fos-responsive sequence motifs in the U5 transcribed noncoding leader sequences downstream of the viral transactivator responsive (TAR) element. These DNA sequence motifs are the most downstream regulatory elements described thus far in the HIV-1 LTR. Functional studies, using human colon epithelial cell lines, demonstrate that the downstream elements are transactivated by expression of the c-fos protooncogene and can transmit PMA and TNF alpha activation signals to the viral LTR. Moreover, the c-fos-responsive elements mediate HIV-1 LTR transcription independent of Tat and the NF kappa B-binding enhancer element. Nuclear extracts of colon epithelial cells form distinct gel mobility shift complexes with the c-fos-responsive elements. These complexes comigrate with a gel shift complex formed on a classical CRE oligonucleotide and are competed by CRE oligonucleotides. These data indicate that the HIV-1 LTR contains previously unrecognized functional DNA cis-regulatory elements downstream of TAR in the transcribed noncoding 5' leader sequence and suggest that early response genes such as c-fos play a role in the activation of HIV-1 gene expression.
K A Roebuck, D A Brenner, M F Kagnoff