B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 11B (BCL11B) is a transcription factor important for T-cell development and acts as a tumor suppressor gene in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Here, we identified BCL11B as a candidate leukemia-associated gene in human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-induced adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL). Interestingly, the short-form lacking exon 3 (BCL11B/S) protein was more highly expressed than the full-length BCL11B (BCL11B/L) in leukemic cells from most of the ATLL patients, although expression ratios of BCL11B/L to BCL11B/S were almost equally expressed in control CD4 T cells. BCL11B/S and BCL11B/L exhibited distinct subcellular localization and differential effects on cellular growth; BCL11B/L expression showed nuclear localization and inhibited cell growth in ATLL cells, whereas BCL11B/S showed nucleo-cytoplasmic distribution and accelerated cell growth. Furthermore, BCL11B/S expression accelerated the development of T-cell leukemia/lymphomas in transgenic mice carrying HTLV-1/HBZ, a critical viral factor in leukemogenesis, whereas these phenotypes did not occur in the double transgenic mice carrying BCL11B/L and HTLV-1/HBZ. In HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines, BCL11B expression is downregulated by HTLV-1/Tax, a viral factor necessary at the early stage of leukemogenesis. These results suggest that downregulation of BCL11B/L expression and upregulation of BCL11B/S may contribute to the development and progression of ATLL.
Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.