The transcription of genes carried by primate foamy viruses is dependent on two distinct promoter elements. These are the long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter, which regulates expression of the viral structural proteins, and a second internal promoter, located towards the 3' end of the env gene, that directs expression of the viral auxiliary proteins. One of these auxiliary proteins is a potent transcriptional transactivator, termed Bel-1 in human foamy virus (HFV) and Tas or Taf in the related simian foamy viruses, that is critical for foamy virus replication. Previously, it has been demonstrated that the LTR promoter element of HFV contains a DNA binding site for Bel-1 that is critical for transcriptional activation (F. He, W. S. Blair, J. Fukushima, and B. R. Cullen, J. Virol. 70:3902-3908, 1996). Here, we extended this earlier work by using methylation interference analysis to identify and characterize the Bel-1 DNA binding sites located in the HFV LTR and internal promoter elements. Based on these data, we propose a minimal, 25-bp DNA binding site for Bel-1, derived from the HFV internal promoter element, and show that this short DNA sequence mediates efficient Bel-1 binding both in vitro and in vivo. We further demonstrate that, as determined by both in vitro and in vivo assays, the Bel-1 target site located within the HFV internal promoter binds Bel-1 with a significantly higher affinity than the cap-proximal Bel-1 target site located in the LTR promoter. This result may provide a mechanistic explanation for the observation that the internal promoter is activated significantly earlier than the LTR promoter during the foamy virus life cycle.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science