How the DNA damage response determines the fate of HTLV-1 Tax-expressing cells

National Fund for Scientific Research, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech and Interdisciplinary Cluster for Applied Genoproteomics (GIGA), University of Liège, Belgium.
Retrovirology (Impact Factor: 4.19). 01/2012; 9(1):2. DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-9-2
Source: PubMed


How the Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein stimulates proliferation while triggering cell cycle arrest and senescence remains puzzling. There is also a debate about the ability of Tax to activate or inhibit the DNA damage response. Here, we comment on these different activities and propose a conceptual rationale for the apparently conflicting observations.

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    • "Ku80 joins a long list of cellular proteins that are targeted by Tax which include checkpoint proteins such as p53, Mad1, CHK1/2 and proproliferative factors like, AKT, NF-kB, cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases [26-30]. Future investigations will help shed additional light on how these factors interact functionally in the course of HTLV-1 engendered ATL development. "
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax oncoprotein rapidily induces a significant increase of micronuclei (MN) and unstabilized DNA breaks in cells. Unstabilized DNA breaks can have free 3'-OH ends accessible to in situ addition of digoxygenin (DIG)-labeled dUTP using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase. In the present work, we used a GFP-Tax (green fluorescent protein) plasmid, which produces a functionally active GFP-tagged Tax protein, to detect the cellular target(s) for Tax which might mechanistically explain the clastogenic phenomenon. We examined the induction of MN and unstabilized DNA breaks in wild type cells and cells individually knocked out for Ku80, PKcs, XRCC4, and H2AX proteins. We also assessed in the same cells, the signal strengths produced by DIG-dUTP incorporation at the unstable DNA breaks in the presence and absence of Tax. Cells mutated for PKcs, XRCC4 and H2AX showed increased frequency of MN and unstabilized DNA breaks in response to the expression of Tax, while cells genetically mutated for Ku80 were refractory to Tax's induction of these cytogenetic effects. Moreover, by measuring the size of DIG-dUTP incorporation signal, which indicates the extent of unstable DNA ends, we found that Tax induces larger signals than those in control cells. However, in xrs-6 cells deficient for Ku80, this Tax effect was not seen. The data here demonstrate that clastogenic DNA damage in Tax expressing cells is explained by Tax targeting of Ku80, but not PKcs, XRCC4 or H2AX, which are all proteins directly or indirectly related to the non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair system. Of note, the Ku80 protein plays an important role at the initial stage of the NHEJ repair system, protecting and stabilizing DNA-breaks. Accordingly, HTLV-1 Tax is shown to interfere with a normal cellular protective mechanism for stabilizing DNA breaks. These DNA breaks, unprotected by Ku80, are unstable and are subject to erosion or end-to-end fusion, ultimately leading to additional chromosomal aberrations.
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    ABSTRACT: A recent model proposing that a barrier is raised against tumor evolution in pre-cancer tissues is investigated. For that we quantify expression alterations in genome maintenance pathways: DNA damage response, death pathways and cell cycle and also differentially expressed genes in transcriptomes of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions deposited in the GEO database. We find that the main alterations in pre-cancer samples comprising the barrier are: (1) DNA double strand-breaks signaling and repair pathways induction, (2) upregulation of cyclin-dependent kinases, (3) p53 dependent (and independent) repair and apoptosis pathways induction and (4) replicative senescence induction early in tissue transformation. In the cancer samples we find that the induced pathways in pre-cancer are systematically inhibited and the only remaining induced pathway is p53, whereas the retinoblastoma pathway arises induced in most samples. The results give support to the model, furthermore they reveal the involvement of additional mechanisms in pre-cancer, including the early induction of replicative senescence and of p53 independent apoptosis.
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy, a general homeostatic process for degradation of cytosolic proteins or organelles, has been reported to modulate the replication of many viruses. The role of autophagy in human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) replication has, however, been uncharacterized. Here, we report that HTLV-1 infection increases the accumulation of autophagosomes and that this accumulation increases HTLV-1 production. We found that the HTLV-1 Tax protein increases cellular autophagosome accumulation by acting to block the fusion of autophagosomes to lysosomes, preventing the degradation of the former by the latter. Interestingly, the inhibition of cellular autophagosome-lysosome fusion using bafilomycin A increased the stability of the Tax protein, suggesting that cellular degradation of Tax occurs in part through autophagy. Our current findings indicate that by interrupting the cell's autophagic process, Tax exerts a positive feedback on its own stability.
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