Characterization of the internal promoter of simian foamy viruses

Mel Campbell, Lisa Renshaw-Gegg, Rolf Renne, Paul A. Luciw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Simian and human foamy viruses (HFV and SFV), genetically related members of the spumavirus genus of retroviruses, have complex genome structures which encode the gag, pol, and env genes for virion proteins as well as additional open reading frames. One of these open reading frames is a viral transactivator, encoded by genes designated taf for SFV and bel-1 for HFV, which augments transcription directed by the long terminal repeat (LTR) through cis-acting targets in the U3 domain of the LTR. Recently, an internal transcriptional promoter has been identified in sequences within the 3' end of the HFV env gene (M. Lochelt, W. Muranyi, and R. M. Flugel, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 90:7317-7321, 1993). We have demonstrated by using transient expression assays in several tissue culture cell lines and by analyzing viral transcripts in infected cells that SFV-1 from a rhesus macaque and SFV-3 from an African green monkey also encode an internal promoter in the env gene. Transcription directed by the internal promoters of SFV-1 and SFV-3 is activated by the taf-1 and taf-3 gene products, respectively, in several cell types. The importance of a TATA box for the SFV-1 internal promoter was established by site-specific mutagenesis, and the 5' ends of transcripts initiating in the internal promoter have been determined. cis-acting sequences in the SFV-1 env gene required for the response to taf-1 are contained within a 121-bp element located 5' to the TATA box in the internal promoter. This taf-1-responsive element in the internal promoter functions in a position- and orientation-independent fashion in a heterologous promoter and thus has the properties of an enhancer which depends on taf-1 activity. Alignments reveal that the SFV-1 internal promoter and the SFV-1 LTR have little sequence relatedness. Cross-transactivation studies show that the transactivators of SFV-1 and HFV function on the internal promoter and LTR of the homologous virus but not on the heterologous virus. In summary, the genomes of simian and human foamy viruses direct viral transcription through both the promoter in the LTR and an internal promoter within the env gene, and each promoter contains unique enhancer-like elements regulated by the viral transactivator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4811-4820
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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