Functional Comparison of HBZ and the Related APH-2 Protein Provides Insight into Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Pathogenesis.

Panfil AR, Dissinger NJ, Howard CM, Murphy BM, Landes K, Fernandez SA, Green PL
J Virol 90 3760-72 01/27/2016


UNLABELLED: Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type 2 (HTLV-2) are highly related retroviruses that transform T cells in vitro but have distinct pathological outcomes in vivo. HTLV-1 encodes a protein from the antisense strand of its proviral genome, the HTLV-1 basic leucine zipper factor (HBZ), which inhibits Tax-1-mediated viral transcription and promotes cell proliferation, a high proviral load, and persistence in vivo. In adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) cell lines and patient T cells, hbz is often the only viral gene expressed. The antisense strand of the HTLV-2 proviral genome also encodes a protein termed APH-2. Like HBZ, APH-2 is able to inhibit Tax-2-mediated viral transcription and is detectable in most primary lymphocytes from HTLV-2-infected patients. However, unlike HBZ, the loss of APH-2 in vivo results in increased viral replication and proviral loads, suggesting that HBZ and APH-2 modulate the virus and cellular pathways differently. Herein, we examined the effect of APH-2 on several known HBZ-modulated pathways: NF-κB (p65) transactivation, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling, and interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transactivation. Like HBZ, APH-2 has the ability to inhibit p65 transactivation. Conversely, HBZ and APH-2 have divergent effects on TGF-β signaling and IRF-1 transactivation. Quantitative PCR and protein half-life experiments revealed a substantial disparity between HBZ and APH-2 transcript levels and protein stability, respectively. Taken together, our data further elucidate the functional differences between HBZ and APH-2 and how these differences can have profound effects on the survival of infected cells and, ultimately, pathogenesis.

IMPORTANCE: Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type 2 (HTLV-2) are highly related retroviruses that have distinct pathological outcomes in infected hosts. Functional comparisons of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 proteins provide a better understanding about how HTLV-1 infection is associated with disease and HTLV-2 infection is not. The HTLV genome antisense-strand genes hbz and aph-2 are often the only viral genes expressed in HTLV-infected T cells. Previously, our group found that HTLV-1 HBZ and HTLV-2 APH-2 had distinct effects in vivo and hypothesized that the differences in the interactions of HBZ and APH-2 with important cell signaling pathways dictate whether cells undergo proliferation, apoptosis, or senescence. Ultimately, these functional differences may affect how HTLV-1 causes disease but HTLV-2 generally does not. In the current study, we compared the effects of HBZ and APH-2 on several HTLV-relevant cellular pathways, including the TGF-β signaling, NF-κB activation, and IRF-1 transactivation pathways.

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