Background: Human T-cell leukemia virus types 1 and 2 (HTLV-1 and HTLV-2) are delta retroviruses with similar genetic organization. Although both viruses immortalize T-cells in vitro, they exhibit distinct pathogenic potential in vivo. To search for possible differences in its expression strategy with respect to HTLV-1, we investigated the pattern of HTLV-2 expression in infected cell lines and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from infected patients using splice site-specific quantitative RT-PCR.Findings: A novel alternative splice acceptor site for exon 2 was identified; its usage in env transcripts was found to be subtype-specific. Time-course analysis revealed a two-phase expression kinetics in an infected cell line and in PBMCs of two of the three patients examined; this pattern was reminiscent of HTLV-1. In addition, the minus-strand APH2 transcript was mainly detected in the nucleus, a feature that was similar to its HTLV-1 orthologue HBZ. In contrast to HTLV-1, expression of the mRNA encoding the main regulatory proteins Tax and Rex and that of the mRNAs encoding the p28 and truncated Rex inhibitors is skewed towards p28/truncated Rex inhibitors in HTLV-2.Conclusion: Our data suggest a general converging pattern of expression of HTLV-2 and HTLV-1 and highlight peculiar differences in the expression of regulatory proteins that might influence the pathobiology of these viruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases