The human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) Rev transactivator protein plays a critical role in the regulation of expression of structural proteins by controlling the pathway of mRNA transport. The Rev protein is located predominantly in the nucleoli of HIV-1 infected or Rev-expressing cells. Previous studies demonstrated that the Rev protein forms a specific complex in vitro with protein B23 which is suggested to be a nucleolar receptor and/or carrier for the Rev protein. To study the role of the nucleolus and nucleolar proteins in Rev function, transfected COS-7 or transformed CMT3 cells expressing the Rev protein were examined for subcellular locations of Rev and other proteins using indirect immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. One day after transfection the Rev protein was found in most cells only in the nucleolar dense fibrillar and granular components where it colocalized with protein B23. These were designated class 1 cells. In a second class of cells Rev and B23 accumulated in the nucleoplasm as well as in nucleoli. Treatment of class 1 cells with actinomycin D (AMD) under conditions that blocked only RNA polymerase I transcription caused Rev to completely redistribute from nucleoli to the cytoplasm. Simultaneously, protein B23 was partially released from nucleoli, mostly into the nucleoplasm, with detectable amounts in the cytoplasm. In cells recovering from AMD treatment in the presence of cycloheximide Rev and B23 showed coincident relocation to nucleoli. Class 2 cells were resistant to AMD-induced Rev redistribution. Selective inhibition of RNA polymerase II transcription by alpha-amanitin or by DRB did not cause Rev to be released into the cytoplasm suggesting that active preribosomal RNA transcription is required for the nucleolar location of Rev. However, treatment with either of the latter two drugs at higher doses and for longer times caused partial disruption of nucleoli accompanied by translocation of the Rev protein to the cytoplasm. These results suggest that the nucleolar location of Rev depends on continuous preribosomal RNA transcription and a substantially intact nucleolar structure.

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