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HTLV-I tax and cytokeratin: Tax-expressing cells show morphological changes in keratin-containing cytoskeletal networks

Abstract

Human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) has been linked to the development of an aggressive lymphoproliferative disorder (adult T cell leukemia), a chronic neurodegenerative presentation (HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis) and numerous less well-defined inflammatory conditions. The viral regulatory protein Tax has been implicated in cellular transformation events leading to the onset of adult T cell leukemia. Details on the stepwise processes through which Tax induces morphological changes in cells are poorly understood. We show here that Tax can bind to a class of intermediate filaments, the cytokeratins (Ker). Tax interacts with the 1B helical coil of keratin 8, a domain critical for higher-order intermediate filament matrix formation. Expression of Tax in epithelial cells visibly altered the structural pattern of the Ker network. In a T lymphocyte cell line, induction of Tax expression resulted in increased cellular adherence/invasion of Matrigel filters. We propose that one aspect of Tax function is the induction of morphological changes in cellular cytoskeletal structures. This finding for Tax-expressing cells might be one factor contributing directly to the pathogenesis of HTLV-I disease(s).

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Trihn, D., Jeang, K. & Semmes, O.J. HTLV-I tax and cytokeratin: Tax-expressing cells show morphological changes in keratin-containing cytoskeletal networks. J Biomed Sci 4, 47–53 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02255593

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Key Words

  • HTLV-I
  • Cytokeratin
  • Invasive
  • Motility
  • HAM/TSP
  • Regulatory protein