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J Gen Virol. 2009 Aug;90(Pt 8):1806-11. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.010199-0. Epub 2009 May 7.

HBZ is an immunogenic protein, but not a target antigen for human T-cell leukemia virus type 1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

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Department of Bioregulatory Medicine, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Toon, Ehime, Japan.


Recently, HBZ has been reported to play an important role in the proliferation of adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL) cells and might be a target of novel therapy for ATL. To develop a novel immunotherapy for ATL, we verified the feasibility of cellular immunotherapy targeting HBZ. We established an HBZ-specific and HLA-A*0201-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone. Detailed study using this CTL clone clearly showed that HBZ is certainly an immunogenic protein recognizable by human CTLs; however, HBZ-specific CTLs could not lyse ATL cells. Failure of HBZ-specific CTLs to recognize human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected cells might be due to a low level of HBZ protein expression in ATL cells and resistance of HTLV-1-infected cells to CTL-mediated cytotoxicity. Although HBZ plays an important role in the proliferation of HTLV-1-infected cells, it may also provide a novel mechanism that allows them to evade immune recognition.

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