Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiologic agent of a T cell neoplasm and several inflammatory diseases. A viral gene, HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ), induces pathogenic Foxp3-expressing T cells and triggers systemic inflammation and T cell lymphoma in transgenic mice, indicating its significance in HTLV-1-associated diseases. Here we show that, unexpectedly, a proinflammatory cytokine, IL-6, counteracts HBZ-mediated pathogenesis. Loss of IL-6 accelerates inflammation and lymphomagenesis in HBZ transgenic mice. IL-6 innately inhibits regulatory T cell differentiation, suggesting that IL-6 functions as a suppressor against HBZ-associated complications. HBZ up-regulates expression of the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10. IL-10 promotes T cell proliferation only in the presence of HBZ. As a mechanism of growth promotion by IL-10, HBZ interacts with STAT1 and STAT3 and modulates the IL-10/JAK/STAT signaling pathway. These findings suggest that HTLV-1 promotes the proliferation of infected T cells by hijacking the machinery of regulatory T cell differentiation. IL-10 induced by HBZ likely suppresses the host immune response and concurrently promotes the proliferation of HTLV-1 infected T cells.
Keywords: HBZ; HTLV-1; IL-10; IL-6; JAK/STAT signaling pathway.
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.