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Viruses 2011, 3(5), 456-468; doi:10.3390/v3050456

Making Sense out of Antisense Transcription in Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Viruses (HTLVs)

Département des Sciences Biologiques, Centre de recherche Bio Med, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal (Québec) H2X 3X8, Canada
Centre d’études d’agents Pathogènes et Biotechnologies pour la Santé, Université Montpellier 1, 34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
CNRS, UM5236, CPBS, F-34965 Montpellier, France
CPBS, Université Montpellier 2, F-34095 Montpellier, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 March 2011 / Revised: 14 April 2011 / Accepted: 15 April 2011 / Published: 5 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Developments in HTLV Research)
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Retroviral gene expression generally depends on a full-length transcript that initiates in the 5' long terminal repeat (LTR), which is either unspliced or alternatively spliced. We and others have demonstrated the existence of an antisense transcript initiating in the 3' LTR of the Human T-cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) that is involved in the production of HBZ (HTLV-1 basic leucine zipper (bZIP) factor). HBZ is a Fos-like factor capable of inhibiting Tax-mediated activation of the HTLV-1 LTR by interacting with the cellular transcription factor cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) and the pleiotropic cellular coactivators p300/CBP. HBZ can also activate cellular transcription through its interaction with p300/CBP. Interestingly, HBZ has also been found to promote T-lymphocyte proliferation. By down-regulating viral expression and by stimulating T-cell proliferation, HBZ could be essential in the establishment of a chronic infection. Antisense transcription also occurs in the closely related HTLV-2 retrovirus as well as in the recently discovered HTLV-3 and HTLV-4. These antisense transcripts are also involved in the production of retroviral proteins that we have termed Antisense Protein of HTLVs (APH). Like HBZ, the APH proteins are localized in the nucleus of transfected cells and repress Tax-mediated viral transcription.
Keywords: HTLV; HBZ; antisense transcription; LTR; chronic infection HTLV; HBZ; antisense transcription; LTR; chronic infection

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Barbeau, B.; Mesnard, J.-M. Making Sense out of Antisense Transcription in Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Viruses (HTLVs). Viruses 2011, 3, 456-468.

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