Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiologic agent of adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), an aggressive CD4+ T lymphocyte malignancy. Activation of T lymphocytes is required for effective retroviral integration into the host cell genome and subsequent viral replication, but the molecular mechanisms involved in HTLV-1-mediated T cell activation remain unclear. HTLV-1 encodes various accessory proteins such as P12I, which has been demonstrated to be critical for HTLV-1 infectivity in vivo in rabbits and in vitro in quiescent primary human T lymphocytes. This hydrophobic protein localizes in the endoplasmic reticulum, increases intracellular calcium, and activates nuclear factor of activated T cell-mediated transcription. To further elucidate the role of p12I in regulation of cellular gene expression, we performed gene array analysis on stable p12I- espressing Jurkat T cells, using Affymetrix U133A arrays. Our data indicate that p12I altered the expression of genes associated with a network of interrelated pathways including T cell signaling, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Expression of several calcium-regulated genes was found to be altered by p12I, consistent with known properties of the viral protein. Gene array findings were confirmed by semiquantitative RT-PCR in Jurkat T cells and primary CD4+ T lymphocytes. Furthermore, dose-dependent expression of P12I in Jurkat T cells resulted in significant increases in p300 and p300-dependent transcription. This is the first report of a viral protein influencing the transcription of p300, a rate-limiting coadapter critical in HTLV-1-mediated T cell activation. Collectively, our data strongly indicate that HTLV-1 p12i modulates cellular gene expression patterns to hasten the activation of T lymphocytes and thereby promote efficient viral infection.
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