Transcription from HIV-1 proviral DNA is a rate-determining step for HIV-1 replication. Interaction between the cyclin T1 (CycT1) subunit of positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) and the Tat transactivator protein of HIV-1 is crucial for viral transcription. CycT1 also interacts directly with the transactivation-responsive element (TAR) located on the 5′end of viral mRNA, as well as with Tat through the Tat–TAR recognition motif (TRM). These molecular interactions represent a critical step for stimulation of HIV transcription. Thus, Tat and CycT1 are considered to be feasible targets for the development of novel anti-HIV therapies. In this study, we demonstrate that CycT1 is positively involved in the Tat protein stability. Selective degradation of CycT1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) culminated in proteasome-mediated degradation of Tat and eventual inhibition of HIV-1 gene expression. We noted that the siRNA-mediated knockdown of CycT1 could inhibit HIV-1 transcription without affecting cell viability and Tat mRNA levels. These findings clearly indicate that CycT1 is a feasible therapeutic target, and inactivation or depletion of CycT1 should effectively inhibit HIV replication by destabilizing Tat and suppressing Tat-mediated HIV transcription
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