[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 30-Jan-2008
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
press@biomedcentral.com
44-020-763-19980
BioMed Central

A taxing issue: How human T-lymphotropic virus

Researchers have identified a potential new mechanism through which human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) causes leukemia in adults. The findings, published this week in the online open access journal Retrovirology, represent the first time that a reduction in histone protein levels has been linked to viral infection and the development of cancer.

HTLV-1 is a retrovirus that causes adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL). A single protein made by the virus, Tax, is thought to be enough to trigger cancer development. Tax has a number of effects in the cell, including promoting inappropriate cell division, repressing DNA repair mechanisms and causing genomic instability. These effects are thought to combine and cause cancer, although the exact details of the process are unclear.

James Bogenberger and Paul Laybourn from Colorado State University, USA found that the levels of histone proteins and histone transcripts were lower in T-cell lines infected with HTLV-1 than in uninfected cell lines. They also showed that Tax could cause a drop in the levels of histone transcript in uninfected cells.

Histone proteins are required for the packaging of DNA in cell nuclei and are involved in many key processes associated with DNA, including transcription, repair and replication. The authors suggest that Tax uncouples cell division and replication-dependent histone gene expression, allowing cell division to continue while the levels of histone protein fall.

They write: We suggest Tax repression of replication-dependent histone gene expression will result in reactivation of viral gene expression, deregulation of cellular gene expression and genomic instability. All of these effects may contribute to the development of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. To our knowledge, this is the first example of a reduction of histone levels correlating with viral infection and cancer development.

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Notes to Editors

1. Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Protein Tax Reduces Histone Levels
James M Bogenberger and Paul J Laybourn
Retrovirology (in press)

During embargo, article available http://www.retrovirology.com/imedia/4604897081669538_article.pdf?random=184261

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.retrovirology.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Centrals open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. Retrovirology is an Open Access, online journal that publishes stringently peer-reviewed, high-impact articles on basic retrovirus research. The journal is edited by Kuan-Teh Jeang (USA), Monsef Benkirane (France), Ben Berkhout (the Netherlands), Masahiro Fujii (Japan), Michael Lairmore (USA), Andrew Lever (UK), and Mark Wainberg (Canada) with the assistance of an internationally renowned Editorial Board. Retrovirology has an Impact Factor of 4.32.

3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.



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