Inhibition of HIV-1 in CEM cells by a potent TAR decoy

S. W. Lee, H. F. Gallardo, O. Gaspar, C. Smith, E. Gilboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


TAR decoys are short RNA oligonucleotides, corresponding to the HIV TAR sequence, which inhibit HIV expression and replication by blocking the binding of the HIV regulatory protein Tat to the authentic TAR region. In previous studies, TAR decoys expressed from a tRNA polIII promoter were moderately effective at inhibiting HIV in isolated human T cell lines and less effective at inhibiting HIV in peripheral blood CD4+ T cells. In this study, a series of modifications was introduced into the tRNA expression cassette in order to improve their effectiveness. These modifications included the addition of sequences which are predicted to have stem-loop secondary structures and addition of a wild-type tRNA processing site. TAR decoy RNA expressed in CEM cells from modified tRNA-based expression cassettes yielded five- to 20-fold more TAR transcripts than unmodified tRNA-based expression cassettes. HIV replication, as measured by a flow cytometric method to quantify intracellular viral p24 expression, was significantly reduced in polyclonal populations of CEM cells expressing a modified tRNA-TAR transcript that contains a wild-type tRNA processing site and stem-loops 5' and 3' to the TAR sequence. Similar modifications to the tRNA expression cassette also increased the intracellular concentration of a random test oligonucleotide, indicating that this improved expression system may also be useful for antisense and ribozyme based gene inhibition strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalGene Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • gene therapy
  • HIV
  • TAR decoy
  • tRNA polIII promoter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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