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See detailThe homeobox protein MSX2 interacts with tax oncoproteins and represses their transactivation activity.
Twizere, Jean-Claude ULg; Lefebvre, Laurent; Collete, Delphine et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2005), 280(33), 29804-11

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) tax is an essential gene involved in the transcriptional activation of viral expression. Tax is also believed to be implicated in leukemogenesis because of its ability to ... [more ▼]

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) tax is an essential gene involved in the transcriptional activation of viral expression. Tax is also believed to be implicated in leukemogenesis because of its ability to immortalize primary cells in vitro. To gain insight into the molecular pathways mediating the activities of this important gene, we identified cellular proteins interacting with Tax. By means of a two-hybrid approach, we show that Tax specifically interacts with MSX2, a general repressor of gene expression. GST pull-down experiments and co-immunoprecipitation assays further confirmed binding specificity. Furthermore, the N-terminal residues 1-79 of MSX2 are required for binding, whereas the C-terminal residues 201-267 of MSX2 do not play a critical role. Whereas the oncogenic potential of Tax in primary cells was only slightly affected by overexpression of MSX2, the other function of Tax, namely LTR-dependent transcriptional activation, was inhibited by MSX2 in human HeLa and bovine B-lymphoblastoid (BL3) cell lines. This MSX2 repression function can be counteracted by overexpression of transcription factors CREB2 and RAP74. The Tax/MSX2 interplay thus results in repression of viral transcriptional activation possibly acting as a regulatory feedback loop. Importantly, this viral gene silencing is not strictly associated with a concomitant loss of Tax oncogenicity as measured by its ability to immortalize primary cells. And interestingly, MSX2 also interacts with and inhibits the transactivation function of the related Tax1 protein encoded by the Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). [less ▲]

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See detailInteraction of retroviral Tax oncoproteins with tristetraprolin and regulation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha expression.
Twizere, Jean-Claude ULg; Kruys, Veronique; Lefebvre, Laurent et al

in Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2003), 95(24), 1846-59

BACKGROUND: The Tax oncoproteins are transcriptional regulators of viral expression involved in pathogenesis induced by complex leukemogenic retroviruses (or delta-retroviruses, i.e., primate T-cell ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: The Tax oncoproteins are transcriptional regulators of viral expression involved in pathogenesis induced by complex leukemogenic retroviruses (or delta-retroviruses, i.e., primate T-cell leukemia viruses and bovine leukemia virus). To better understand the molecular pathways leading to cell transformation, we aimed to identify cellular proteins interacting with Tax. METHODS: We used a yeast two-hybrid system to identify interacting cellular proteins. Interactions between Tax and candidate interacting cellular proteins were confirmed by glutathione S-transferase (GST) pulldown assays, co-immunoprecipitation, and confocal microscopy. Functional interactions between Tax and one interacting protein, tristetraprolin (TTP), were assessed by analyzing the expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), which is regulated by TTP, in mammalian cells (HeLa, D17, HEK 293, and RAW 264.7) transiently transfected with combinations of intact and mutant Tax and TTP. RESULTS: We obtained seven interacting cellular proteins, of which one, TTP, was further characterized. Tax and TTP were found to interact specifically through their respective carboxyl-terminal domains. The proteins colocalized in the cytoplasm in a region surrounding the nucleus of HeLa cells. Furthermore, coexpression of Tax was associated with nuclear accumulation of TTP. TTP is an immediate-early protein that inhibits expression of TNF-alpha at the post-transcriptional level. Expression of Tax reverted this inhibition, both in transient transfection experiments and in stably transfected macrophage cell lines. CONCLUSION: Tax, through its interactions with the TTP repressor, indirectly increases TNF-alpha expression. This observation is of importance for the cell transformation process induced by leukemogenic retroviruses, because TNF-alpha overexpression plays a central role in pathogenesis. [less ▲]

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See detailOncoviral bovine leukemia virus G4 and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 p13(II) accessory proteins interact with farnesyl pyrophosphate synthetase
Lefebvre, Laurent; Vanderplasschen, Alain ULg; Ciminale, Vincenzo et al

in Journal of Virology (2002), 76(3), 1400-1414

G4 and p13(II) are accessory proteins encoded by the X region of bovine leukemia virus and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), respectively. Disruption of the G4 and p13(II) open reading frames ... [more ▼]

G4 and p13(II) are accessory proteins encoded by the X region of bovine leukemia virus and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), respectively. Disruption of the G4 and p13(II) open reading frames interferes with viral spread in animal model systems, indicating that the corresponding proteins play a key role in viral replication. In addition, G4 is oncogenic in primary cell cultures and is absolutely required for efficient onset of leukemogenesis in sheep. To gain insight into the function of these proteins, we utilized the yeast two-hybrid system to identify protein partners of G4. Results revealed that G4 interacts with farnesyl pyrophosphate synthetase (FPPS), a protein involved in the mevalonate/squalene pathway and in synthesis of FPP, a substrate required for prenylation of Ras. The specificity of the interaction was verified by glutathione S-transferase (GST) pull-down assays and by coimmunoprecipitation experiments. Furthermore, confocal microscopy showed that the subcellular localization of G4 was profoundly affected by FPPS. The G4 protein itself was not prenylated, at least in rabbit reticulocyte lysate-based assays. The domain of G4 required for binding to FPPS was restricted to an amphipathic alpha-helix rich in arginine residues. Subtle mutation of this alpha-helix abrogated G4 oncogenic potential in vitro, providing a biological relevance for FPPS-G4 complex formation in cells. Finally, HTLV-1 p13(II) was also found to specifically interact with FPPS (in yeast as well as in GST pull-down assays) and to colocalize with G4 in mitochondria, suggesting a functional analogy between these oncoviral accessory proteins. Identification of FPPS as a molecular partner for p13(II) and G4 accessory proteins opens retrovirus-induced leukemia. [less ▲]

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See detailSubcellular Localization Of The Bovine Leukemia Virus R3 And G4 Accessory Proteins
Lefebvre, Laurent; Ciminale, Vincenzo; Vanderplasschen, Alain ULg et al

in Journal of Virology (2002), 76(15), 7843-7854

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a complex retrovirus that belongs to the Deltaretrovirus genus, which also includes Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Both viruses contain an X region coding for ... [more ▼]

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a complex retrovirus that belongs to the Deltaretrovirus genus, which also includes Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Both viruses contain an X region coding for at least four proteins: Tax and Rex, which are involved in transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation, respectively, and the accessory proteins R3 and G4 (for BLV) and p12(I), p13(II), and p30(II) (for HTLV-1). The present study was aimed at characterizing the subcellular localization of BLV R3 and G4. The results of immunofluorescence experiments on transfected HeLa Tat cells demonstrated that R3 is located in the nucleus and in cellular membranes, as previously reported for HTLV-1 p12(1). In contrast, G4, like p13(II), is localized both in the nucleus and in mitochondria. In addition, we have shown that G4 harbors a mitochondrial targeting signal consisting of a hydrophobic region and an amphipathic alpha-helix. Thus, despite a lack of significant primary sequence homology, R3 and p12(1) and G4 and p13(II) exhibit similar targeting properties, suggesting possible overlap in their functional properties. [less ▲]

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See detailPhosphorylation of bovine leukemia virus Tax protein is required for in vitro transformation but not for transactivation.
Willems, Luc ULg; Grimonpont, Cathy; Kerkhofs, Pierre et al

in Oncogene (1998), 16(17), 2165-76

The Tax proteins of the oncovirinae viruses are phosphorylated transcriptional activators that exhibit oncogenic potential. The role of phosphorylation in their functional activities remains unknown. As a ... [more ▼]

The Tax proteins of the oncovirinae viruses are phosphorylated transcriptional activators that exhibit oncogenic potential. The role of phosphorylation in their functional activities remains unknown. As a model for the Human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I), Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) permits the characterization of viral replication and leukemogenesis in vivo. Here, we show that the BLV Tax protein is phosphorylated on serine residues 106 and 293 both in insect and in mammalian cells. These sites can also be efficiently phosphorylated by the cdc2 and MAP kinases in vitro. Mutation of these residues does not affect the capacity of the Tax protein to function as a transactivator. Indeed, the Tax proteins mutated at one or both serines increase LTR-directed viral transcription at levels similar to those obtained with wild-type Tax in cell culture. Moreover, inhibition of Tax phosphorylation by W7, a calmodulin antagonist, does not alter its transactivation activity. Thus, phosphorylation on serines 106 and 293 is not required for transactivation by Tax. However, simultaneous substitution of both serines into alanine residues destroys the capacity of Tax to cooperate with the Ha-ras oncogene to transform primary rat embryo fibroblasts and induce tumors in nude mice. When the serines were replaced with aspartic acid residues, the oncogenic potential of Tax was maintained indicating that the negative charge rather than the phosphate group itself was required for Tax oncogenicity. Finally, to assess the role of the serine residues in vivo, recombinant viruses which express the Tax mutants were constructed and injected into sheep. It appeared that the mutated proviruses replicate at levels similar to the wild-type virus in vivo. We conclude that Tax phosphorylation is dispensable for transactivation and viral replication in vivo but is required for its oncogenic potential in vitro. [less ▲]

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