Although the HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR) contains four potential binding sites for the octamer-binding protein, Oct-1, which is known to interact with the HIV-1 Tat protein, the effect of the Oct-1 factor on HIV LTR-driven gene expression has not previously been reported. We show here that both Oct-1, and to a lesser extent the related Oct-2 protein, can repress both the basal activity of the HIV-1 LTR and its transactivation by Tat. These effects are still observed with an HIV LTR construct containing only a single octamer-binding site located between the TATA box and the transcriptional start site. The stronger inhibitory effect of Oct-1 on both these promoters is dependent upon its C-terminal region which cannot be effectively replaced by the equivalent region of Oct-2. These effects are discussed in terms of the regulation of HIV LTR activity in different cell types and in response to T-cell activation.

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