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CD3e expression in HTLV-1-infected individuals is associated with proviral load and Tax expression


CD4+ T cells play a central role in HTLV-1 infection. We investigated the global gene expression profile of circulating CD4+ T cells in distinct clinical status of HTLV-1-infected individuals in regard to Tax expression levels.


The microarray platform used 12 individual samples divided according to patients’ clinical status and Tax expression as follows: healthy control (CT, n=4), HAC (n=4, 2 high Tax expression and 2 low Tax expression) and HAM/TSP group (n=4, 2 high Tax expression and 2 low Tax expression). Proviral load (PVL) was quantified by qRT-PCR and Tax expression was analyzed by flow cytometry in HAC and HAM/TSP group.


Hierarchical clustering analysis showed that CT and HTLV-infected groups clustered separately. We also observed that HAC and HAM/TSP groups were in separate clusters regardless Tax expression. We identified 449 genes differentially expressed between HAC and HAM/TSP groups and we classified these genes according the biological functions. CD3e was represented in many functions like cellular development, cell signaling, and others. CD3e expression by qRT-PCR was higher (1.3X) in the HAM/TSP than HAC group (p=0.0195). We also validated LCK, VAV and ZAP70 genes, which are downstream molecules of the CD3e activation pathway. These genes were also significantly higher in HAM/TSP group and CD3e, LCK and VAV1 genes were positively correlated with PVL and Tax expression.


The higher PVL and Tax expression the higher activity of CD4+ T cells in the symptomatic group, suggesting that this pathway could have an important role in HAM/TSP development.


Financial support: FUNDHERP, CTC, INCTC, FAPESP, CNPq and CAPES.

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Correspondence to Mariana Tomazini Pinto.

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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.

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Pinto, M.T., Malta, T.M., Pinheiro, D.G. et al. CD3e expression in HTLV-1-infected individuals is associated with proviral load and Tax expression. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A114 (2011).

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