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Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1087:299-313. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-670-2_24.

Investigating human T cell lymphotropic retrovirus (HTLV) Tax function with molecular and immunophenotypic techniques.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy.


Human T cell Lymphotropic Viruses 1 and 2 (HTLV-1 and HTLV-2) are the first described human retroviruses. HTLV-1 is the causative agent of an aggressive malignancy of CD4+ T lymphocytes named adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and of a chronic neurological disease known as HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HTLV-2 shares many similarities with HTLV-1, but displays lower or absent association to diseases. Among the proteins encoded by HTLVs, the viral transactivator Tax exerts an essential role in viral transcription as well as in cell transformation. Different experimental methods to study Tax activity on HTLV-LTR promoter and Tax subcellular distribution are described. Emphasis is given to the functional and physical interaction between Tax-1/Tax-2 and cellular cofactors which may have an impact on the infectivity process of the HTLVs and on the capacity of cell transformation.

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