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Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Mar. 1992, p. 1564-1570 0022-538X/92/031564-07$02.00/0 Copyright © 1992, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a lymphotropic herpesvirus, and in vitro, HHV-6 can productively infect many of the same cell types as can human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Coinfection by both viruses in vitro can lead to both activation of the HIV promoter and acceleration of cytopathic effects. We have previously demonstrated that a large, 22.25-kb cloned HHV-6 fragment, pZVB70, can trans activate HIV promoter expression in vitro. In this study, we show that the pZVB70 fragment can trans activate the HIV promoter in human T-cell lines as well as in the monkey kidney cell line CV-1. The pZVB70 insert was digested with various restriction enzymes, and individual fragments were transfected into cells to test for their ability to trans activate the HIV promoter. By this method, we have identified a 1.8-kb subfragment, B701, that is involved in trans activation. Sequence analyses show that B701 potentially encodes a 143-amino-acid protein. This protein shares no homology with other herpesvirus proteins, such as ICPO and ICP4, that have been shown to trans activate the HIV promoter. However, it shows weak sequence homology with the gene products encoded by the cytomegalovirus early US22 gene family, suggesting that the putative B701 protein may be an HHV-6 early regulatory protein. The 143-amino-acid coding sequence of B701 was cloned by polymerase chain reaction, and transfection of this construct into cells activated HIV promoter expression. The target site on the HIV promoter for the putative B701 protein is mapped to the NF-KB binding site. Our results suggest that the putative B701 protein may function by directly binding to the NF-KB site or may involve cellular factors, such as NF-KB, either directly or indirectly.

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