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  • Open Access

Akt activation by human T-cell leukemia virus tax oncoprotein

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  • 1,
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  • 1Email author
Retrovirology201512 (Suppl 1) :P54

  • Published:


  • Leucine Rich Repeat Protein
  • Research Foundation Grant
  • Domain Binding Motif
  • Large Tumor Suppressor
  • Post Synaptic Density Protein

Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1), the etiological agent of Adult T-Cell Leukemia, expresses the viral oncoprotein Tax1. In contrast, HTLV-2, which expresses Tax2, is non-leukemogenic. One difference between these homologous proteins is the presence of a C-terminal PDZ (post synaptic density protein) domain binding motif (PBM), previously reported to be important for non-canonical nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB) activation. In contrast, the current study finds no defect in non-canonical NFkappaB activity by deletion of the Tax1 PBM. Instead, Tax1 PBM was found to be important for Akt (Protein Kinase B) activation. Tax1 attenuated the effects of negative regulatory phosphatases of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway, PTEN (Phosphatase and Tensin homologue) and PHLPP (PH domain and leucine rich repeat protein phosphatase). Tax1 competes with PTEN for binding to PDZ protein DLG-1 (Drosophila disc large tumor suppressor), unlike a PBM deletion mutant of Tax1. Forced membrane expression of PTEN or PHLPP, by fusion to a myristolyation acceptor motif, overcame the effects of Tax1, as measured by levels of Akt phosphorylation at T308 and S473, and rates of Akt dephosphorylation. The current findings suggest that Akt activation may explain the differences in transforming activity of HTLV-1 and -2. Moreover, these findings suggest a new approach to therapeutics for HTLV-1 lymphoproliferative disease. Supported by NIH grants CA94056, CA1730, CA63413, Lymphoma Leukemia Society grant 6067-10, American Society for Hematology fellowship and NIH T32 grant HL07088, and Lymphoma Research Foundation grant 307181203.

Authors’ Affiliations

Division of Oncology, Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA
Center for Retrovirus Research, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA


© Cherian et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.