The importance of understanding the molecular mechanisms of murine leukemia virus (MLV) integration into host chromatin is highlighted by the development of MLV-based vectors for human gene-therapy. We have recently identified BET proteins (Brd2, 3 and 4) as the main cellular binding partners of MLV integrase (IN) and demonstrated their significance for effective MLV integration at transcription start sites. Here we show that recombinant Brd4, a representative of the three BET proteins, establishes complementary high-affinity interactions with MLV IN and mononucleosomes (MNs). Brd4(1-720) but not its N- or C-terminal fragments effectively stimulate MLV IN strand transfer activities in vitro. Mass spectrometry- and NMR-based approaches have enabled us to map key interacting interfaces between the C-terminal domain of BRD4 and the C-terminal tail of MLV IN. Additionally, the N-terminal fragment of Brd4 binds to both DNA and acetylated histone peptides, allowing it to bind tightly to MNs. Comparative analyses of the distributions of various histone marks along chromatin revealed significant positive correlations between H3- and H4-acetylated histones, BET protein-binding sites and MLV-integration sites. Our findings reveal a bimodal mechanism for BET protein-mediated MLV integration into select chromatin locations.
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