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J Immunol. 2008 Jan 15;180(2):931-9.

Tax-inducible production of CC chemokine ligand 22 by human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected T cells promotes preferential transmission of HTLV-1 to CCR4-expressing CD4+ T cells.

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Department of Microbiology, Kinki University School of Medicine, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka, Japan.

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  • J Immunol. 2008 Jun 15;180(12):8470.


Adult T cell leukemia is a mature CD4+ T cell malignancy which predominantly expresses CCR4 and is etiologically associated with human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Because HTLV-1 transmission depends on close cell-cell contacts, HTLV-1-infected T cells may preferentially interact with CCR4+CD4+ T cells for efficient viral transmission. In terms of gene expression and protein secretion, we found a strong correlation between HTLV-1 Tax oncoprotein and CCL22, a CCR4 ligand, in HTLV-1-infected T cells. Transient Tax expression in an HTLV-1-negative T cell line activated the CCL22 promoter and induced CCL22. Additionally, tax gene knockdown by small interference RNA reduced CCL22 expression in the infected T cells. These findings indicate that CCL22 is a cellular target gene of Tax. In chemotaxis assays, the culture supernatants of HTLV-1-infected T cells selectively attracted CCR4+CD4+ T cells in PBMCs. This was blocked by pretreating the supernatants with anti-CCL22 Ab or PBMCs with a synthetic CCR4 antagonist. In coculture experiments, primary CCR4+CD4+ T cells significantly adhered to Tax-expressing cells. This adhesion was blocked by the CCR4 antagonist or pertussis toxin. Interestingly, CCR4 was redistributed to the contact region, and in some cases, this was accompanied by a polarized microtubule-organizing center, which is an indicator of virological synapse formation, in the infected T cells. Finally, anti-CCL22 Ab treatment also blocked HTLV-1 transmission to primary CD4+ T cells in coculture experiments with HTLV-1 producer cells. Thus, HTLV-1-infected T cells produce CCL22 through Tax and selectively interact with CCR4+CD4+ T cells, resulting in preferential transmission of HTLV-1 to CCR4+CD4+ T cells.

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