The HTLV-I oncoprotein Tax inactivates the tumor suppressor FBXW7

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Publications

J Virol. 2024 Jun 14:e0040524. doi: 10.1128/jvi.00405-24. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-I) is the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). Mutational analysis has demonstrated that the tumor suppressor, F-box and WD repeat domain containing 7 (FBXW7/FBW7/CDC4), is mutated in primary ATL patients. However, even in the absence of genetic mutations, FBXW7 substrates are stabilized in ATL cells, suggesting additional mechanisms can prevent FBXW7 functions. Here, we report that the viral oncoprotein Tax represses FBXW7 activity, resulting in the stabilization of activated Notch intracellular domain, c-MYC, Cyclin E, and myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (BCL2-related) (Mcl-1). Mechanistically, we demonstrate that Tax directly binds to FBXW7 in the nucleus, effectively outcompeting other targets for binding to FBXW7, resulting in decreased ubiquitination and degradation of FBXW7 substrates. In support of the nuclear role of Tax, a non-degradable form of the nuclear factor kappa B subunit 2 (NFκB2/p100) was found to delocalize Tax to the cytoplasm, thereby preventing Tax interactions with FBXW7 and Tax-mediated inhibition of FBXW7. Finally, we characterize a Tax mutant that is unable to interact with FBXW7, unable to block FBXW7 tumor suppressor functions, and unable to effectively transform fibroblasts. These results demonstrate that HTLV-I Tax can inhibit FBXW7 functions without genetic mutations to promote an oncogenic state. These results suggest that Tax-mediated inhibition of FBXW7 is likely critical during the early stages of the cellular transformation process.

IMPORTANCE: F-box and WD repeat domain containing 7 (FBXW7), a critical tumor suppressor of human cancers, is frequently mutated or epigenetically suppressed. Loss of FBXW7 functions is associated with stabilization and increased expression of oncogenic factors such as Cyclin E, c-Myc, Mcl-1, mTOR, Jun, and Notch. In this study, we demonstrate that the human retrovirus human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 oncoprotein Tax directly interacts with FBXW7, effectively outcompeting other targets for binding to FBXW7, resulting in decreased ubiquitination and degradation of FBXW7 cellular substrates. We further demonstrate that a Tax mutant unable to interact with and inactivate FBXW7 loses its ability to transform primary fibroblasts. Collectively, our results describe a novel mechanism used by a human tumor virus to promote cellular transformation.

PMID:38874362 | DOI:10.1128/jvi.00405-24

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