The Journal of biological chemistry

Identification of human T cell leukemia virus type 1 tax amino acid signals and cellular factors involved in secretion of the viral oncoprotein.

PMID 17897946


Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiologic agent of a number of pathologic abnormalities, including adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The viral oncoprotein Tax has been implicated in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Recently, cell-free Tax was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of HAM/TSP patients, implying that extracellular Tax may be relevant to neurologic disease. Additionally, the presence of a nuclear export signal within Tax and its active secretion has been demonstrated in vitro. However, the mechanism of Tax secretion remains to be established. Studies reported herein elucidate the process of Tax secretion and identify domains of Tax critical to its subcellular localization and secretion. Tax was shown to interact with a number of cellular secretory pathway proteins in both the model cell line BHK (baby hamster kidney)-21 and an HTLV-1-infected T cell line, C8166, physiologically relevant to HTLV-1-induced disease. Silencing of selected components of the secretory pathway affected Tax secretion, further confirming regulated secretion of Tax. Additionally, mutations in two putative secretory signals within Tax DHE and YTNI resulted in aberrant subcellular localization of Tax and significantly altered protein secretion. Together, these studies demonstrate that Tax secretion is a regulated event facilitated by its interactions with proteins of the cellular secretory pathway and the presence of secretory signals within the carboxyl-terminal domain of the protein.

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