The human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a complex deltaretrovirus linked to adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), a fatal CD4 + malignancy in 3–5% of infected individuals. The HTLV-1 Tax regulatory protein plays indispensable roles in regulating viral gene expression and activating cellular signaling pathways that drive the proliferation and clonal expansion of T cells bearing HTLV-1 proviral integrations. Tax is a potent activator of NF-κB, a key signaling pathway that is essential for the survival and proliferation of HTLV-1-infected T cells. However, constitutive NF-κB activation by Tax also triggers a senescence response, suggesting the possibility that only T cells capable of overcoming NF-κB-induced senescence can selectively undergo clonal expansion after HTLV-1 infection. Tax expression is often silenced in the majority of ATLL due to genetic alterations in the tax gene or DNA hypermethylation of the 5′-LTR. Despite the loss of Tax, NF-κB activation remains persistently activated in ATLL due to somatic mutations in genes in the T/B-cell receptor (T/BCR) and NF-κB signaling pathways. In this review, we focus on the key events driving Tax-dependent and -independent mechanisms of NF-κB activation during the multistep process leading to ATLL.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology