HIV-1 Tat and P-TEFb Complex: An Old Story with a Fresh Look

Nanhai He, University of California, Berkeley
Advisor:  Qiang Zhou
Basic Biomedical Sciences
Dissertation Award

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is one of the most serious and deadly diseases in human history and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the causative reagent of this disease. Although numerous drugs have emerged, there is no cure for AIDS to date. This virus encodes 19 proteins that are important for viral maturation,replication and infection. One of these proteins, Tat, plays an essential role in transcription of viral genes. What this protein does is to hijack the host transcription apparatus in order to stimulate its own gene expression. It has been well characterized that the host transcription elongation factor P-TEFb is the target of the viral protein Tat, but other than that, little is known about the details. Recently, we have further investigated the connection between Tat and P-TEFb, resulting in the identification of two novel host proteins that are also important for Tat-mediated transcription. This project is dedicated to fully dissecting the functions of these two proteins and hence further understanding of the HIV gene expression. This might potentially identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.