HTLV-1 and apoptosis: role in cellular transformation and recent advances in therapeutic approaches
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- Taylor, J.M. & Nicot, C. Apoptosis (2008) 13: 733. doi:10.1007/s10495-008-0208-7
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A universal cellular defense mechanism against viral invasion is the elimination of infected cells through apoptotic cell death. To counteract host defenses many viruses have evolved complex apoptosis evasion strategies. The oncogenic human retrovirus HTLV-1 is the etiological agent of adult-T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and the neurodegenerative disease known as HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The poor prognosis in HTLV-1-induced ATLL is linked to the resistance of neoplastic T cells against conventional therapies and the immuno-compromised state of patients. Nevertheless, several studies have shown that the apoptotic pathway is largely intact and can be reactivated in ATLL tumor cells to induce specific killing. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms employed by HTLV-1 to counteract cellular death pathways remains an important challenge for future therapies and the treatment of HTLV-1-associated diseases.