The human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-I) is associated with adult CD4+ T-cell leukemia (ATL) and tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP). In as much as only a small percentage of individuals infected with HTLV-I develop either disease, we set out to model a genetic partner for this virus in an effort to understand and possibly reproduce its pathophysiology. To this end we have developed a binary set of transgenic mice, one bearing the relatively inactive HTLV-I long terminal repeat (LTR) positioned to drive the c-myc oncogene and another bearing a fusion transgene consisting of the immunoglobulin promoter/enhancer driving the gene for the HTLV-I transcription activator, tax. Alone, the tax construct, though expressed in the thymus, spleen, lung and brain, has no deleterious effect. Alone, the HTLV-I LTR/c-myc construct is expressed at very low levels in Iymphoid cells and occasionally induces lymphomas in older animals. When these two transgenic lines are mated, bigenic offspring harboring both transgenes exhibit dramatic tumor formation. As in the human, these animals develop CD4+ T-cell lymphomas, but they also develop central nervous system tumors by 25-90 days of age. The syndrome, which is 100% penetrant and lethal, provides an animal model for adult T-cell lymphoma and a source of cultured cells of neurogenic origin.
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|Published - Dec 1992