Scientific reports 2017 03 037() 43221 doi 10.1038/srep43221
Human T-lymphotropic Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection is characterized by viral latency in the majority of infected cells and by the absence of viremia. These features are thought to be due to the repression of viral sense transcription in vivo. Here, our in silico analysis of the HTLV-1 Long Terminal Repeat (LTR) promoter nucleotide sequence revealed, in addition to the four Sp1 binding sites previously identified, the presence of two additional potential Sp1 sites within the R region. We demonstrated that the Sp1 and Sp3 transcription factors bound in vitro to these two sites and compared the binding affinity for Sp1 of all six different HTLV-1 Sp1 sites. By chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, we showed Sp1 recruitment in vivo to the newly identified Sp1 sites. We demonstrated in the nucleosomal context of an episomal reporter vector that the Sp1 sites interfered with both the sense and antisense LTR promoter activities. Interestingly, the Sp1 sites exhibited together a repressor effect on the LTR sense transcriptional activity but had no effect on the LTR antisense activity. Thus, our results demonstrate the presence of two new functional Sp1 binding sites in the HTLV-1 LTR, which act as negative cis-regulatory elements of sense viral transcription.