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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Defective DNA repair in cells with human T-cell leukemia/bovine leukemia viruses: role of tax gene.

BACKGROUND: Human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV)/bovine leukemia virus (BLV) group retroviruses, which cause hematopoietic cancers, encode a unique protein, Tax, involved in the transformation of infected cells. Our purpose was to determine whether the mechanism by which Tax protein induces transformation in HTLV- or BLV-infected cells involves DNA damage. METHODS: We used a micronucleus assay to measure chromosomal damage and alkali denaturation analysis to test host-cell DNA integrity in cells infected with HTLV, BLV, or simian T-lymphotropic virus or in cells transfected with the tax gene of HTLV or BLV. Controls included uninfected cells and cells infected with other oncogenic retroviruses or oncogenic DNA viruses. We used a plasmid reactivation assay to examine whether the damage might be due to the inhibition of DNA repair. To ascertain which of several repair pathways might be inhibited, chemical methods were used to selectively introduce lesions repaired by specific pathways into the reporter plasmid. RESULTS: The presence of Tax was associated with DNA damage. HTLV- or BLV-infected or tax-transfected cells showed normal ability to repair damage induced by deoxyribonuclease I or psoralen but markedly decreased ability to repair damage induced by UV light, quercetin, or hydrogen peroxide. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that the DNA repair pathway most inhibited by Tax is base-excision repair of oxidative damage. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating inhibition of DNA repair by any retrovirus and suggests that this inhibition of DNA repair may contribute to the mechanism of cell transformation by the HTLV/BLV group of viruses.[1]


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