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Role of Wild-type and Recombinant Human T-cell Leukemia Viruses in Lymphoproliferative Disease in Humanized NSG Mice

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Chronic infection with human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV1) can lead to adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). In contrast,infection with HTLV2 does not lead to leukemia, potentially because of distinct virus–host interactions and an active immune response that controls virus replication and, therefore, leukemia development. We created a humanized mouse model by injecting human umbilical-cord stem cells into the livers of immunodeficient neonatal NSG mice, resulting in the development of human lymphocytes that cannot mount an adaptive immune response. We used these mice to compare the ability of molecular clones of HTLV1, HTLV2, and select recombinant viruses to induce leukemia–lymphoma in vivo. Infection with HTLV1 strongly stimulated the proliferation of CD4+ T cells, whereas HTLV2 preferentially stimulated the proliferation of CD8+ T cells; both HTLV1 and HTLV2 induced lymphoproliferative disease. Uninfected and HTLV-infected humanized mice both showed granulomatous inflammation as a background lesion. Similarly, recombinant viruses that expressed the HTLV1 envelope protein (Env) on an HTLV2 background (HTLV2–Env1) or Env2 on an HTLV1 background (HTLV1–Env2) induced lymphoproliferative disease. HTLV2–Env1 stimulated the proliferation of CD4+ T cells, whereas HTLV1–Env2 stimulated both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets. Our results show that T-cell transformation in vivo is guided by the Env protein of the virus. Furthermore, our humanized mouse model is useful for exploring the preferred T-cell tropisms of HTLV1 and HTLV2.
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Appeared or available online: Thu Nov 16 00:00:00 UTC 2017

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