The impact of HTLV-1 expression on the 3D structure and expression of host chromatin

PLoS Pathog. 2024 Mar 1;20(3):e1011716. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011716. eCollection 2024 Mar.


A typical HTLV-1-infected individual carries >104 different HTLV-1-infected T cell clones, each with a single-copy provirus integrated in a unique genomic site. We previously showed that the HTLV-1 provirus causes aberrant transcription in the flanking host genome and, by binding the chromatin architectural protein CTCF, forms abnormal chromatin loops with the host genome. However, it remained unknown whether these effects were exerted simply by the presence of the provirus or were induced by its transcription. To answer this question, we sorted HTLV-1-infected T-cell clones into cells positive or negative for proviral plus-strand expression, and then quantified host and provirus transcription using RNA-seq, and chromatin looping using quantitative chromosome conformation capture (q4C), in each cell population. We found that proviral plus-strand transcription induces aberrant transcription and splicing in the flanking genome but suppresses aberrant chromatin loop formation with the nearby host chromatin. Reducing provirus-induced host transcription with an inhibitor of transcriptional elongation allows recovery of chromatin loops in the plus-strand-expressing population. We conclude that aberrant host transcription induced by proviral expression causes temporary, reversible disruption of chromatin looping in the vicinity of the provirus.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1* / genetics
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1* / metabolism
  • Proviruses / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Chromatin