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The importance of ubiquitination and sumoylation on the transforming activity of HTLV Tax-1 and Tax-2

Linda Zane and Kuan-Teh Jeang*

Author Affiliations

Molecular Virology Section, Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892-0460, USA

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Retrovirology 2012, 9:103  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-9-103

Published: 7 December 2012


Human T-cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and 2 (HTLV-2) are two closely related human retroviruses. HTLV-1 is associated with an aggressive Adult T-cell Leukemia (ATL) while there is no evidence for an association of HTLV-2 with any human malignancies. The two viruses encode transactivator proteins, Tax-1 and Tax-2 respectively. In ATL, Tax-1 is thought to play a central role in the transformation of a normal T-cell into a leukemic cell; however, it has not been entirely clear how post-translational modifications of Tax-1 influence its transforming activity. Here, we discuss three recent papers that report on the ubiquitination and sumoylation of Tax-1 and Tax-2. We comment on their divergent findings implicating the importance (or lack of importance) of these modifications and other events on Tax activation of NF-κB as related to cellular transformation.

HTLV-1; HTLV-2; Tax; ATL; Cell transformation; NF-κB; Sumoylation; Ubiquitination