HIV-1 Tat stimulates transcription elongation by recruiting the P-TEFb (positive transcription elongation factor-b) (CycT1:CDK9) C-terminal domain (CTD) kinase to the HIV-1 promoter. Here we show that Tat transactivation also requires the Ssu72 CTD Ser5P (S5P)-specific phosphatase, which mediates transcription termination and intragenic looping at eukaryotic genes. Importantly, HIV-1 Tat interacts directly with Ssu72 and strongly stimulates its CTD phosphatase activity. We found that Ssu72 is essential for Tat:P-TEFb-mediated phosphorylation of the S5P-CTD in vitro. Interestingly, Ssu72 also stimulates nascent HIV-1 transcription in a phosphatase-dependent manner in vivo. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments reveal that Ssu72, like P-TEFb and AFF4, is recruited by Tat to the integrated HIV-1 proviral promoter in TNF-α signaling 2D10 T cells and leaves the elongation complex prior to the termination site. ChIP-seq (ChIP combined with deep sequencing) and GRO-seq (genome-wide nuclear run-on [GRO] combined with deep sequencing) analysis further reveals that Ssu72 predominantly colocalizes with S5P-RNAPII (RNA polymerase II) at promoters in human embryonic stem cells, with a minor peak in the terminator region. A few genes, like NANOG, also have high Ssu72 at the terminator. Ssu72 is not required for transcription at most cellular genes but has a modest effect on cotranscriptional termination. We conclude that Tat alters the cellular function of Ssu72 to stimulate viral gene expression and facilitate the early S5P-S2P transition at the integrated HIV-1 promoter.
Keywords: CTD phosphatase; HIV-1 Tat; Ssu72; elongation.
© 2014 Chen et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.