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      NF-κB Hyper-Activation by HTLV-1 Tax Induces Cellular Senescence, but Can Be Alleviated by the Viral Anti-Sense Protein HBZ

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          Activation of I-κB kinases (IKKs) and NF-κB by the human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) trans-activator/oncoprotein, Tax, is thought to promote cell proliferation and transformation. Paradoxically, expression of Tax in most cells leads to drastic up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21 CIP1/WAF1 and p27 KIP1, which cause p53-/pRb-independent cellular senescence. Here we demonstrate that p21 CIP1/WAF1-/p27 KIP1-mediated senescence constitutes a checkpoint against IKK/NF-κB hyper-activation. Senescence induced by Tax in HeLa cells is attenuated by mutations in Tax that reduce IKK/NF-κB activation and prevented by blocking NF-κB using a degradation-resistant mutant of I-κBα despite constitutive IKK activation. Small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown indicates that RelA induces this senescence program by acting upstream of the anaphase promoting complex and RelB to stabilize p27 KIP1 protein and p21 CIP1/WAF1 mRNA respectively. Finally, we show that down-regulation of NF-κB by the HTLV-1 anti-sense protein, HBZ, delay or prevent the onset of Tax-induced senescence. We propose that the balance between Tax and HBZ expression determines the outcome of HTLV-1 infection. Robust HTLV-1 replication and elevated Tax expression drive IKK/NF-κB hyper-activation and trigger senescence. HBZ, however, modulates Tax-mediated viral replication and NF-κB activation, thus allowing HTLV-1-infected cells to proliferate, persist, and evolve. Finally, inactivation of the senescence checkpoint can facilitate persistent NF-κB activation and leukemogenesis.

          Author Summary

          Transcription factors of the NF-κB/Rel family are critical for the proliferation of lymphocytes and the expression of genes that mediate inflammatory and immune responses. They are often aberrantly activated in human cancers, especially leukemia, where they confer survival and proliferation advantages. Through the study of the trans-activator/oncoprotein, Tax, of the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), we have found that persistent and potentially oncogenic activation of NF-κB triggers a defense mechanism that commits cells into senescence, an irreversible state of cell cycle arrest. This checkpoint is turned on by hyper-activated p65/RelA and is mediated by two cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21 and p27, in a p53- and pRb-independent manner. It is often impaired in cancer cells with constitutively active NF-κB. Our results anticipate that the anti-sense protein of HTLV-1, HBZ, which down-regulates NF-κB and HTLV-1 trans-activation by Tax, would mitigate or prevent Tax-induced senescence. This prediction has been borne out experimentally. Thus, Tax promotes robust HTLV-1 replication, potent NF-κB activation and senescence, while HBZ attenuates Tax-driven viral replication and NF-κB activation to allow proliferation of infected cells and persistent infection. Finally, our data support the notion that inactivation of the senescence checkpoint facilitates chronic NF-κB hyper-activation, a critical step in leukemia development.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infectivity and cellular transformation.

          It has been 30 years since a 'new' leukaemia termed adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL) was described in Japan, and more than 25 years since the isolation of the retrovirus, human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), that causes this disease. We discuss HTLV-1 infectivity and how the HTLV-1 Tax oncoprotein initiates transformation by creating a cellular environment favouring aneuploidy and clastogenic DNA damage. We also explore the contribution of a newly discovered protein and RNA on the HTLV-1 minus strand, HTLV-1 basic leucine zipper factor (HBZ), to the maintenance of virus-induced leukaemia.
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            Motif module map reveals enforcement of aging by continual NF-kappaB activity.

            Aging is characterized by specific alterations in gene expression, but their underlying mechanisms and functional consequences are not well understood. Here we develop a systematic approach to identify combinatorial cis-regulatory motifs that drive age-dependent gene expression across different tissues and organisms. Integrated analysis of 365 microarrays spanning nine tissue types predicted fourteen motifs as major regulators of age-dependent gene expression in human and mouse. The motif most strongly associated with aging was that of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Inducible genetic blockade of NF-kappaB for 2 wk in the epidermis of chronologically aged mice reverted the tissue characteristics and global gene expression programs to those of young mice. Age-specific NF-kappaB blockade and orthogonal cell cycle interventions revealed that NF-kappaB controls cell cycle exit and gene expression signature of aging in parallel but not sequential pathways. These results identify a conserved network of regulatory pathways underlying mammalian aging and show that NF-kappaB is continually required to enforce many features of aging in a tissue-specific manner.
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              Control of I kappa B-alpha proteolysis by site-specific, signal-induced phosphorylation.

              I kappa B-alpha inhibits transcription factor NF-kappa B by retaining it in the cytoplasm. Various stimuli, typically those associated with stress or pathogens, rapidly inactivate I kappa B-alpha. This liberates NF-kappa B to translocate to the nucleus and initiate transcription of genes important for the defense of the organism. Activation of NF-kappa B correlates with phosphorylation of I kappa B-alpha and requires the proteolysis of this inhibitor. When either serine-32 or serine-36 of I kappa B-alpha was mutated, the protein did not undergo signal-induced phosphorylation or degradation, and NF-kappa B could not be activated. These results suggest that phosphorylation at one or both of these residues is critical for activation of NF-kappa B.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Pathog
                PLoS Pathogens
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                April 2011
                April 2011
                28 April 2011
                : 7
                : 4
                [1 ]Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America
                [2 ]Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
                Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, United States of America
                Author notes

                ¤: Current address: School of Medical Imaging and Radiological Sciences, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

                Conceived and designed the experiments: HZ CZG. Performed the experiments: HZ LY YLK YKH. Analyzed the data: HZ LY YLK YKH HMS CZG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: HMS. Wrote the paper: HZ CZG.

                This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Research Article
                Molecular Cell Biology
                Infectious Diseases

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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