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HTLV-I-induced T-cell activation.

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Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Infection by the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) causes T-cell activation by at least two separate mechanisms. One mechanism involves activation of the T cells harboring the virus and is exemplified by in vivo infected nonimmortalized T-cell clones that display a prolonged state of activation. This HTLV-I-induced T-cell activation is inhibited by rapamycin, a drug that inhibits p70 S6-kinase and blocks cell cycle in G1, but is not inhibited by FK506 or cyclosporin A, both of which inhibit interleukin-2 (IL-2) production. The phenotype of this pathway is consistent with an hyperactive IL-2R pathway or CD28 pathway, indicating that HTLV-I may contribute a costimulatory signal to the infected T cell. As a separate mechanism, HTLV-I-infected T cells can induce activation of uninfected T cells via T-T-cell interaction mediated by the LFA-3-CD2 pathway. This may induce IL-2 production from the uninfected T cells, leading to a more generalized activation of the immune system that potentially could provide a basis for some of the diseases associated with HTLV-I. Moreover, this THTLV-I-T-cell interaction could explain the spontaneous proliferation observed in patients with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis.

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