Background: Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), the etiologic agent for adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), induces cytokine-independent proliferation of T-cells, associated with the acquisition of constitutive activation of Janus kinases (Jak) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stat) proteins. Our purposes in this study were to determine whether activation of Jak-Stat pathway is responsible for the proliferation and survival of ATL cells, and to explore mechanisms by which inhibition of Jak-Stat pathway kills ATL cells.
Results: Constitutive activation of Stat3 and Stat5 was observed in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines and primary ATL cells, but not in HTLV-1-negative T-cell lines. Using AG490, a Jak-specific inhibitor, we demonstrated that the activation of Stat3 and Stat5 was mediated by the constitutive phosphorylation of Jak proteins. AG490 inhibited the growth of HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines and primary ATL cells by inducing G1 cell-cycle arrest mediated by altering the expression of cyclin D2, Cdk4, p53, p21, Pim-1 and c-Myc, and by apoptosis mediated by the reduced expression of c-IAP2, XIAP, survivin and Bcl-2. Importantly, AG490 did not inhibit the growth of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that activation of Jak-Stat pathway is responsible for the proliferation and survival of ATL cells. Inhibition of this pathway may provide a new approach for the treatment of ATL.