News Releases & Research Results Elucidation of a novel mechanism underlying inflammatory and malignant diseases caused by human T cell leukemia virus type 1, which is common among the Japanese population

News Releases & Research Results


The results of collaborative research conducted by Assistant Professor Yusuke Higuchi of the Department of Hematology, Rheumatology and Infectious Disease, Kumamoto University Hospital; Associate Professor Jun-ichirou Yasunaga and Professor Masao Matsuoka of the Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Sciences; and others.

The key results of research are as follows:

  • The research group discovered a mechanism through which the human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) changes the responsiveness of HTLV-1-infected immune cells (T cells) to cytokines* by the action of the viral gene “HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ)” and thereby causes inflammatory and malignant diseases.
    *Physiologically active substances (small proteins) secreted by immune and other cells which affect various cell functions and signaling in the living body.
  • The results of research should contribute to the elucidation of the mechanisms of onset of adult T cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATL), a malignant tumor caused by HTLV-1, and HTLV-1-associated inflammatory diseases, and facilitate the development of new therapeutic and preventive methods for these diseases.

This research project was conducted with the support of the Research Program on Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases and the Project for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Evolution (P-CREATE) by AMED.

The results of research were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS).


Higuchi Y., et al. HTLV-1 induces T-cell malignancy and inflammation by viral antisense factor-mediated modulation of the cytokine signaling Proceedings of the National Academy of Science


Last updated 06/01/20