HTLV-1 viral oncoprotein HBZ contributes to the enhancement of HAX-1 stability by impairing the ubiquitination pathway

J Cell Physiol. 2020 Sep 7. doi: 10.1002/jcp.30044. Online ahead of print.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is an oncogenic retrovirus that causes adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). The viral protein HTLV-1 basic leucine-zipper factor (HBZ), which is constitutively expressed in all ATL patient cells, contributes toward the development of ATL; however, the underlying mechanism has not been elucidated yet. Here, we identified HS-1-associated protein X-1 (HAX-1) as a novel binding partner of HBZ. Interestingly, HAX-1 specifically associated with HBZ-US, but not HBZ-SI, in the cytoplasm. HBZ suppressed the polyubiquitination levels of HAX-1 protein by inhibiting the association HAX-1 with F-box protein 25 (FBXO25), which is a member of the SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, and promoted the stabilization of HAX-1 levels. In fact, the protein levels of HAX-1 were significantly increased in HTLV-1 infected and the overexpressing HBZ in uninfected T-cell lines. Enhanced HAX-1 correlated well to suppression of caspase 9 processing, suggesting that HBZ may contribute to the enhancement of antiapoptotic function for HAX-1. Our results revealed a role for HBZ on HAX-1 stabilization by abrogating the ubiquitination-mediated degradation pathway, which may play an important role in understanding the potential mechanisms of HTLV-1 related pathogenesis.

Keywords: ATL; HAX-1; HBZ; HTLV-1; ubiquitin.