Journal of virology

Oncogenic human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 tax suppression of primary innate immune signaling pathways.

PMID 25694597


Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1) is an oncogenic retrovirus considered to be the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). The viral transactivator Tax is regarded as the oncoprotein responsible for contributing toward the transformation process. Here, we demonstrate that Tax potently inhibits the activity of DEx(D/H) box helicases RIG-I and MDA5 as well as Toll-dependent TIR-domain-containing adapter-inducing interferon-β (TRIF), which function as cellular sensors or mediators of viral RNA and facilitate innate immune responses, including the production of type I IFN. Tax manifested this function by binding to the RIP homotypic interaction motif (RHIM) domains of TRIF and RIP1 to disrupt interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) activity, a critical type I IFN transcription factor. These data provide further mechanistic insight into HTLV-1-mediated subversion of cellular host defense responses, which may help explain HTLV-1-related pathogenesis and oncogenesis. It is predicted that up to 15% of all human cancers may involve virus infection. For example, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has been reported to infect up to 25 million people worldwide and is the causative agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). We show here that HTLV-1 may be able to successfully infect the T cells and remain latent due to the virally encoded product Tax inhibiting a key host defense pathway. Understanding the mechanisms by which Tax subverts the immune system may lead to the development of a therapeutic treatment for HTLV-1-mediated disease.