Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2023 Mar 21;657:43-49. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2023.03.049. Online ahead of print.
Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a peripheral T-cell malignancy caused by human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Microsatellite instability (MSI) has been observed in ATL cells. Although MSI results from impaired mismatch repair (MMR) pathway, no null mutations in the genes encoding MMR factors are detectable in ATL cells. Thus, it is unclear whether or not impairment of MMR causes the MSI in ATL cells. HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ) protein interacts with numerous host transcription factors and significantly contributes to disease pathogenesis and progression. Here we investigated the effect of HBZ on MMR in normal cells. The ectopic expression of HBZ in MMR-proficient cells induced MSI, and also suppressed the expression of several MMR factors. We then hypothesized that the HBZ compromises MMR by interfering with a transcription factor, nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF-1), and identified the consensus NRF-1 binding site at the promoter of the gene encoding MutS homologue 2 (MSH2), an essential MMR factor. The luciferase reporter assay revealed that NRF-1 overexpression enhanced MSH2 promoter activity, while co-expression of HBZ reversed this enhancement. These results supported the idea that HBZ suppresses the transcription of MSH2 by inhibiting NRF-1. Our data demonstrate that HBZ causes impaired MMR, and may imply a novel oncogenesis driven by HTLV-1.