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Tax protein-induced expression of antiapoptotic Bfl-1 protein contributes to survival of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected T-cells

Héloïse Macaire, Aurélien Riquet, Vincent Moncollin, Marie-Claude Biémont-Trescol, Madeleine Duc Dodon, Olivier Hermine, Anne-Laure Debaud, Renaud Mahieux, Jean-Michel Mesnard, Marlène Pierre, Louis Gazzolo, Nathalie Bonnefoy, Hélène Valentin
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2012 June 15, 287 (25): 21357-70
22553204
Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiologic agent of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL). ATLL is a severe malignancy with no effective treatment. HTLV-1 regulatory proteins Tax and HTLV-1 basic leucine zipper factor (HBZ) play a major role in ATLL development, by interfering with cellular functions such as CD4(+) T-cell survival. In this study, we observed that the expression of Bfl-1, an antiapoptotic protein of the Bcl-2 family, is restricted to HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines and to T-cells expressing both Tax and HBZ proteins. We showed that Tax-induced bfl-1 transcription through the canonical NF-κB pathway. Moreover, we demonstrated that Tax cooperated with c-Jun or JunD, but not JunB, transcription factors of the AP-1 family to stimulate bfl-1 gene activation. By contrast, HBZ inhibited c-Jun-induced bfl-1 gene activation, whereas it increased JunD-induced bfl-1 gene activation. We identified one NF-κB, targeted by RelA, c-Rel, RelB, p105/p50, and p100/p52, and two AP-1, targeted by both c-Jun and JunD, binding sites in the bfl-1 promoter of T-cells expressing both Tax and HBZ. Analyzing the potential role of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins in HTLV-1-infected T-cell survival, we demonstrated that these cells are differentially sensitive to silencing of Bfl-1, Bcl-x(L), and Bcl-2. Indeed, both Bfl-1 and Bcl-x(L) knockdowns decreased the survival of HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines, although no cell death was observed after Bcl-2 knockdown. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Bfl-1 knockdown sensitizes HTLV-1-infected T-cells to ABT-737 or etoposide treatment. Our results directly implicate Bfl-1 and Bcl-x(L) in HTLV-1-infected T-cell survival and suggest that both Bfl-1 and Bcl-x(L) represent potential therapeutic targets for ATLL treatment.

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