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Open Access Research article

Identification of bovine leukemia virus tax function associated with host cell transcription, signaling, stress response and immune response pathway by microarray-based gene expression analysis

Mariluz Arainga12, Eri Takeda1 and Yoko Aida12*

Author Affiliations

1 Viral Infectious Diseases Unit, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan

2 Laboratory of Viral Infectious Diseases, Department of Medical Genome Sciences, Graduate School of Frontier Science, The University of Tokyo, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:121  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-121

Published: 28 March 2012

Abstract

Background

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is associated with enzootic bovine leukosis and is closely related to human T-cell leukemia virus type I. The Tax protein of BLV is a transcriptional activator of viral replication and a key contributor to oncogenic potential. We previously identified interesting mutant forms of Tax with elevated (TaxD247G) or reduced (TaxS240P) transactivation effects on BLV replication and propagation. However, the effects of these mutations on functions other than transcriptional activation are unknown. In this study, to identify genes that play a role in the cascade of signal events regulated by wild-type and mutant Tax proteins, we used a large-scale host cell gene-profiling approach.

Results

Using a microarray containing approximately 18,400 human mRNA transcripts, we found several alterations after the expression of Tax proteins in genes involved in many cellular functions such as transcription, signal transduction, cell growth, apoptosis, stress response, and immune response, indicating that Tax protein has multiple biological effects on various cellular environments. We also found that TaxD247G strongly regulated more genes involved in transcription, signal transduction, and cell growth functions, contrary to TaxS240P, which regulated fewer genes. In addition, the expression of genes related to stress response significantly increased in the presence of TaxS240P as compared to wild-type Tax and TaxD247G. By contrast, the largest group of downregulated genes was related to immune response, and the majority of these genes belonged to the interferon family. However, no significant difference in the expression level of downregulated genes was observed among the Tax proteins. Finally, the expression of important cellular factors obtained from the human microarray results were validated at the RNA and protein levels by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and western blotting, respectively, after transfecting Tax proteins into bovine cells and human HeLa cells.

Conclusion

A comparative analysis of wild-type and mutant Tax proteins indicates that Tax protein exerts a significant impact on cellular functions as diverse as transcription, signal transduction, cell growth, stress response and immune response. Importantly, our study is the first report that shows the extent to which BLV Tax regulates the innate immune response.