- HIV transcription is regulated at the step of elongation by the viral Tat protein and the cellular positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb; Cdk9/cyclin T1). Herein, a human cyclin T1 mutant, cyclin T1-U7, which contains four substitutions and one deletion in the N-terminal cyclin box, was stably expressed in HeLa cells. HIV transcription was efficiently inhibited in HeLa–HA-CycT1-U7 stable cells. Cyclin T1-U7 bound Tat but did not modulate its expression levels, which remained high. Importantly cyclin T1-U7 failed to interact with Cdk9 or HEXIM1 and did not interfere with endogenous P-TEFb activity to stimulate MEF2C or NFkB mediated transcription. In a T cell line and primary CD4+ cells, cyclin T1-U7 also inhibited HIV transcription. We conclude that cyclin T1-U7 sequesters Tat from P-TEFb and inhibits HIV transcription. Importantly, N-terminal residues in cyclin T1 are specifically involved in the binding of cyclin T1 to HEXIM1 but not to Tat.