Human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus (HTLV) type-2 can induce the survival and proliferation of CD34+ TF-1 cells deprived of interleukin (IL)-3. This effect did not require productive infection and occurred when HTLV-2 was produced from T cells (CMo), but not from B cells (BMo), unless the latter virus was complexed with anti-HLA-DR monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Cellular and molecular mechanisms triggered by HTLV-2 interaction with TF-1 cells were here investigated. Activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 5 protein occurred in TF-1 cells incubated either with IL-3 or with HTLV-2/CMo; in addition the virus, but not IL-3, activated STAT1. The effect of HTLV-2 required several hours, suggesting dependence on the induction of cellular factors. By screening a panel of secreted factors, granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interferon (IFN)-γ, and stem cell factor (SCF) were found induced by HTLV-2 in TF-1 cells. Of note is the fact that these molecules induce a variety of biologic effects through the activation of STAT proteins, including STAT1 and STAT5. Neutralization experiments indicated that GM-CSF and IFN-γ, but not SCF, were responsible for HTLV-2-induced STAT activation, whereas anti-GM-CSF antibodies greatly inhibited TF-1 cell proliferation. Finally, incubation of BMo virus with anti-HLA-DR mAb rescued TF-1 cell survival in the absence of IL-3. Thus, HTLV-2 interaction with CD34+ precursor cells may lead to the expression of cytokines that, by inducing autocrine activation of STATs, may influence the host's regenerative capacity and immune response to HTLV-2 and to other infectious agents.
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