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Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) causes adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATL) and inflammatory diseases. The HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ) gene is constantly expressed in HTLV-1 infected cells and ATL cells. HBZ protein suppresses transcription of the tax gene through blocking the LTR recruitment of not only ATF/CREB factors but also CBP/p300. HBZ promotes transcription of Foxp3, CCR4, and T-cell immunoreceptor with Ig and ITIM domains (TIGIT). Thus, HBZ is critical for the immunophenotype of infected cells and ATL cells. HBZ also functions in its RNA form. HBZ RNA suppresses apoptosis and promotes proliferation of T cells. Since HBZ RNA is not recognized by cytotoxic T cells, HTLV-1 has a clever strategy for avoiding immune detection. HBZ plays central roles in maintaining infected T cells in vivo and determining their immunophenotype.


Masao Matsuoka, Jean-Michel Mesnard. HTLV-1 bZIP factor: the key viral gene for pathogenesis. Retrovirology. 2020 Jan 08;17(1):2

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PMID: 31915026

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