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Human T cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1) is the causative agent of a severe cancer of the lymphoid lineage that develops in 3-5% of infected individuals after many years. HTLV-1 infection may also induce a serious inflammatory pathology of the nervous system designated HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). Two virus-encoded proteins, the viral transactivator Tax-1 and the HTLV-1 basic leucine-zipper factor HBZ, are strongly involved in the oncogenic process. Tax-1 is involved in initial phases of the oncogenic process. Conversely, HBZ seems to be involved in maintenance of the neoplastic state as witnessed by the generation of leukemic/lymphomatous phenotype in HBZ transgenic mice and the persistent expression of HBZ in all phases of the oncogenic process. Nevertheless, the intimate molecular and cellular mechanism mediated by the two viral proteins, particularly HBZ, in oncogenesis still remain elusive. An important step toward the complete comprehension of HBZ-associated oncogenicity is the clarification of the anatomical correlates of HBZ during the various phases of HTLV-1 infection to development of HTLV-1-associated inflammatory pathology and ultimately to the establishment of leukemia. In this review, I will summarize recent studies that have established for the first time a temporal and unidirectional expression of HBZ, beginning with an exclusive cytoplasmic localization in infected asymptomatic individuals and in HAM/TSP patients and ending to a progressive cytoplasmic-to-nuclear transition in leukemic cells. These results are framed within the present knowledge of HTLV-1 infection and the future lines of research that may shed new light on the complex mechanism of HTLV-1- mediated oncogenesis. Copyright © 2022 Accolla.


Roberto S Accolla. The Road to HTLV-1-Induced Leukemia by Following the Subcellular Localization of HTLV-1-Encoded HBZ Protein. Frontiers in immunology. 2022;13:940131

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PMID: 35812456

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