Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gene expression and replication is highly dependent on and modulated by interactions between viral and host cellular factors. Tat protein, encoded by one of the HIV-1 regulatory genes, tat, is essential for HIV-1 gene expression. A number of host cellular factors have been shown to interact with Tat in this process. During our attempts to determine the molecular mechanisms of Tat interaction with brain cells, we isolated a cDNA clone that encodes a novel Tat-interacting protein of 110 kDa or Tip110 from a human fetal brain cDNA library. GenBank™ BLAST search revealed that Tip110 was almost identical to a previously cloned KIAA0156 gene with unknown functions. In vivo binding of Tip110 with Tat was confirmed by immunoprecipitation and Western blotting, in combination with mutagenesis. The yeast three-hybrid RNA-protein interaction assay indicated no direct interaction of Tip110 with Tat transactivating response element RNA. Nevertheless, Tip110 strongly synergized with Tat on Tat-mediated chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene expression and HIV-1 virus production, whereas down-modulation of constitutive Tip110 expression inhibited HIV-1 virus production. Northern blot analysis showed that Tip110 mRNA was expressed in a variety of human tissues and cells. Moreover, digital fluorescence microscopic imaging revealed that Tip110 was expressed exclusively in the nucleus, and within a nuclear speckle structure that has recently been described for human cyclin T and CDK9, two critical components for Tat transactivation function on HIV-1 long terminal repeat promoter. Taken together, these data demonstrate that Tip110 regulates Tat transactivation activity through direct interaction, and suggest that Tip110 is an important cellular factor for HIV-1 gene expression and viral replication.