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J Gen Virol. 2004 Jul;85(Pt 7):1921-32.

Tax protein of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 induces interleukin 17 gene expression in T cells.

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  • 1Virologie Humaine INSERM-U412, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, IFR 128 BioSciences Lyon-Gerland, 46 allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France. madeleine.duc.dodon@ens-lyon.fr


Tax protein of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) induces the expression of several cellular genes that are involved in T cell activation and proliferation. In this study, it was observed that Tax upregulated the expression of human interleukin 17 (IL17), a cytokine mainly produced by activated CD4(+) memory T cells. Indeed, IL17 mRNA was highly expressed in HTLV-1-infected T cells as well as in Tax-expressing Jurkat T cells, whereas it was not detectable in HTLV-1-negative T cell lines. The clinical relevance of these observations was further demonstrated by quantitative assessment of IL17 expression in lymphocytes isolated from one HTLV-1-infected patient. To define the transcriptional activation of the IL17 gene by Tax, the 5'-flanking region of this gene was cloned and a reporter gene analysis performed. The presence of a Tax-responsive region spanning 614 bp upstream of the initiation start site was identified, in HeLa as well as in Jurkat cells, stimulated with phorbol myristate acetate and Ca(2+) ionophore. Finally, Tax mutants were used to show that the transcriptional activation of the IL17 promoter by Tax was dependent on the CREB/ATF pathway. As IL17 upregulates the expression of several pro-inflammatory cytokines, these observations provide new insights into the involvement of the Tax protein in the pathophysiology of HTLV-1-associated inflammatory disorders.

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