In this report we show that signals for transcriptional factors are not restricted to the HIV-1 LTR, but are present throughout the HIV-1 genome. Furthermore, we identified a sequence, AGAACAGATG, highly homologous to the X-box of class II MHC genes and located within the tat-IVS/env region of HIV-1. Double stranded oligonucleotides mimicking the HIV-1 region containing AGAACAGATG were synthesized and band shift experiments were performed demonstrating that this HIV-1 genomic region binds nuclear proteins. We further demonstrate that the binding of nuclear factors to this tat-IVS/env HIV-1 sequence is competed for, in the band-shift assay, by the highly homologous X-box of the promoter of the human HLA-DR alpha gene. The presence in the HIV-1 genome of DNA sequences homologous or identical to regulatory sequences of cellular genes represents a potential mechanism of predation of DNA elements recognized by DNA binding proteins.
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