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Carcinogenesis. 2011 Jan;32(1):110-9. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgq222. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Activation of AID by human T-cell leukemia virus Tax oncoprotein and the possible role of its constitutive expression in ATL genesis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Oncology, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan.


Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a T-cell malignancy associated with human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Mutations of tumor suppressor genes have been described in ATL. Although Tax, a product of HTLV-1, is associated with cellular genetic aberrations, the mechanisms of such association are not fully clear. Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is involved in somatic DNA alterations of the immunoglobulin gene for amplification of immune diversity. However, inappropriate expression of AID acts as a genomic mutator that contributes to tumorigenesis. To gain insight into the molecular mechanism underlying the emergence of somatic mutations in various genes during leukemogenesis, we examined the expression of AID. HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines and ATL cells expressed high levels of AID compared with uninfected T-cell lines and normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Immunohistochemistry showed AID-positive ATL cells in lymph nodes and skin lesions. Infection of a human T-cell line and normal PBMCs with HTLV-1 induced AID expression. Tax transcriptionally activated AID gene through both the nuclear factor-kappaB subunit p50 and cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate response element-binding protein signaling pathways. p50, which lacks a transactivation domain, interacted with the transcriptional coactivator Bcl-3 in HTLV-1-infected T cells. Thus, activation of p50/Bcl-3 complexes in T cells in response to Tax might explain the constitutive expression of AID in HTLV-1-infected T cells. The constitutive expression of AID in ATL cells can be speculated to result from mutations induced by the Tax-activated AID and/or other Tax-associated mutagenic mechanisms during the pre-leukemic stage, which cause functional modification within the AID promoter or in any of its cellular regulatory activator proteins.

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