By using human CD4+ lymphoblastoid T cells transiently cotransfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV), we tested whether modulation of T-cell activation through the protein kinase C (PKC) or the protein kinase A (PKA) pathway synergized with CMV immediate-early (IE) proteins in HIV long terminal repeat (LTR) transactivation. Stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate, tumor necrosis factor, or cross-linked antibodies to CD3 and CD28 resulted in modest enhancement (two- to fourfold) of the activity of a luciferase expression vector under control of the HIV LTR. Cotransfection of a vector expressing the CMV IE1 and IE2 proteins under the control of their own promoter enhanced HIV LTR activity 16- to 49-fold. Combination of any one of the above stimuli and CMV IE expression amplified HIV LTR activity 99- to 624-fold. Stimulation of PKA-dependent pathways with forskolin, 8-bromo cyclic AMP, or prostaglandin E2 had a minimal effect on HIV LTR activity, whereas such stimuli resulted in synergistic amplification in cells cotransfected with CMV IE (three- to fivefold increases over the effects of CMV IE alone). This synergism was independent of the NF-kappa B binding motifs within the HIV LTR. CMV IE2, but not IE1, protein induced HIV transactivation and synergized with signals modulating T-cell activation. The intense synergism observed was superior to the increase in IE protein expression following PKC activation by phorbol myristate acetate. Treatment of cells with PKC inhibitor GF109203X blocked most of the observed synergism.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS
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