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    Previously, we reported that cellular transcription factor ZASC1 facilitates DNA-dependent/RNA-independent recruitment of HIV-1 TAT and the cellular elongation factor P-TEFb to the HIV-1 promoter and is a critical factor in regulating HIV-1 transcriptional elongation (PLoS Path e1003712). Here we report that cellular transcription factor ZBTB2 is a novel repressor of HIV-1 gene expression. ZBTB2 strongly co-immunoprecipitated with ZASC1 and was dramatically relocalized by ZASC1 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Mutations abolishing ZASC1/ZBTB2 interaction prevented ZBTB2 nuclear relocalization. We show that ZBTB2-induced repression depends on interaction of cellular histone deacetylases (HDACs) with the ZBTB2 POZ domain. Further, ZASC1 interaction specifically recruited ZBTB2 to the HIV-1 promoter, resulting in histone deacetylation and transcription repression. Depleting ZBTB2 by siRNA knockdown or CRISPR/CAS9 knockout in T cell lines enhanced transcription from HIV-1 vectors lacking Vpr, but not from these vectors expressing Vpr. Since HIV-1 Vpr activates the viral LTR by inducing the ATR kinase/DNA damage response pathway, we investigated ZBTB2 response to Vpr and DNA damaging agents. Expressing Vpr or stimulating the ATR pathway with DNA damaging agents impaired ZASC1's ability to localize ZBTB2 to the nucleus. Moreover, the effects of DNA damaging agents and Vpr on ZBTB2 localization could be blocked by ATR kinase inhibitors. Critically, Vpr and DNA damaging agents decreased ZBTB2 binding to the HIV-1 promoter and increased promoter histone acetylation. Thus, ZBTB2 is recruited to the HIV-1 promoter by ZASC1 and represses transcription, but ATR pathway activation leads to ZBTB2 removal from the promoter, cytoplasmic sequestration and activation of viral transcription. Together, our data show that ZASC1/ZBTB2 integrate the functions of TAT and Vpr to maximize HIV-1 gene expression.

    Citation

    James W Bruce, Megan Bracken, Edward Evans, Nathan Sherer, Paul Ahlquist. ZBTB2 represses HIV-1 transcription and is regulated by HIV-1 Vpr and cellular DNA damage responses. PLoS pathogens. 2021 Feb;17(2):e1009364


    PMID: 33635925

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