Bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) protein inhibition suppresses human T cell leukemia virus 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein-mediated tumorigenesis by inhibiting nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling

Xuewei Wu, Jun Qi, James E Bradner, Gutian Xiao, Lin-Feng Chen
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2013 December 13, 288 (50): 36094-105
The etiology of human T cell leukemia virus 1 (HTLV-1)-mediated adult T cell leukemia is associated with the ability of viral oncoprotein Tax to induce sustained NF-κB activation and the expression of many NF-κB target genes. Acetylation of the RelA subunit of NF-κB and the subsequent recruitment of bromodomain-containing factor Brd4 are important for the expression of NF-κB target genes in response to various stimuli. However, their contributions to Tax-mediated NF-κB target gene expression and tumorigenesis remain unclear. Here we report that Tax induced the acetylation of lysine 310 of RelA and the binding of Brd4 to acetylated RelA to facilitate Tax-mediated transcriptional activation of NF-κB. Depletion of Brd4 down-regulated Tax-mediated NF-κB target gene expression and cell proliferation. Inhibiting the interaction of Brd4 and acetylated RelA with the bromodomain extraterminal protein inhibitor JQ1 suppressed the proliferation of Tax-expressing rat fibroblasts and Tax-positive HTLV-1-infected cells and Tax-mediated cell transformation and tumorigenesis. Moreover, JQ1 attenuated the Tax-mediated transcriptional activation of NF-κB, triggering the polyubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation of constitutively active nuclear RelA. Our results identify Brd4 as a key regulator for Tax-mediated NF-κB gene expression and suggest that targeting epigenetic regulators such as Brd4 with the bromodomain extraterminal protein inhibitor might be a potential therapeutic strategy for cancers and other diseases associated with HTLV-1 infection.

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