Nucleic Acids Res. 2024 Jan 26:gkae015. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkae015. Online ahead of print.
The NF-κB protein p65/RelA plays a pivotal role in coordinating gene expression in response to diverse stimuli, including viral infections. At the chromatin level, p65/RelA regulates gene transcription and alternative splicing through promoter enrichment and genomic exon occupancy, respectively. The intricate ways in which p65/RelA simultaneously governs these functions across various genes remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, we employed the HTLV-1 Tax oncoprotein, a potent activator of NF-κB, to investigate its influence on the three-dimensional organization of the genome, a key factor in gene regulation. We discovered that Tax restructures the 3D genomic landscape, bringing together genes based on their regulation and splicing patterns. Notably, we found that the Tax-induced gene-gene contact between the two master genes NFKBIA and RELA is associated with their respective changes in gene expression and alternative splicing. Through dCas9-mediated approaches, we demonstrated that NFKBIA-RELA interaction is required for alternative splicing regulation and is caused by an intragenic enrichment of p65/RelA on RELA. Our findings shed light on new regulatory mechanisms upon HTLV-1 Tax and underscore the integral role of p65/RelA in coordinated regulation of NF-κB-responsive genes at both transcriptional and splicing levels in the context of the 3D genome.