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Front Microbiol. 2017 Aug 2;8:1425. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01425. eCollection 2017.

The Exceptional Oncogenicity of HTLV-1.

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Division of Basic Science, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimore, MD, United States.


Human T-cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1) is the first pathogenic human retrovirus identified in 1979 by the Gallo group. HTLV-1 causes fatal T-cell leukemia (adult T cell leukemia) and a progressive myelopahy (HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic paraparesis, HAM/TSP) and other disorders. Since the discovery of HTLV-1, several other microorganisms are demonstrated to cause cancer in humans. In this article, we investigated the oncogenic capacity of HTLV-1, in comparison with those of other oncoviruses and one oncobacterium (Helicobacter pylori, H. Pylori) based on published literature. We conclude here that HTLV-1 is one of the most and may be the most carcinogenic among them and arguably one of the most potent of the known human carcinogens. This fact has not been noted before and is particularly important to justify why we need to study HTLV-1 as an important model of human viral oncogenesis.


HTLV-1; T-cell leukemia; oncogenicity; oncoviruses; retrovirus

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