Niclosamide, an anti-helminthic molecule, downregulates the retroviral oncoprotein Tax and pro-survival Bcl-2 proteins in HTLV-1-transformed T lymphocytes

Di Xiang, Yunsheng Yuan, Li Chen, Xin Liu, Chandra Belani, Hua Cheng

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Adult T cell leukemia and lymphoma (ATL) is a highly aggressive form of hematological malignancy and is caused by chronic infection of human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). The viral genome encodes an oncogenic protein, Tax, which plays a key role in transactivating viral gene transcription and in deregulating cellular oncogenic signaling to promote survival, proliferation and transformation of virally infected T cells. Hence, Tax is a desirable therapeutic target, particularly at early stage of HTLV-1-mediated oncogenesis. We here show that niclosamide, an anti-helminthic molecule, induced apoptosis of HTLV-1-transformed T cells. Niclosamide facilitated degradation of the Tax protein in proteasome. Consistent with niclosamide-mediated Tax degradation, this compound inhibited activities of MAPK/ERK1/2 and IκB kinases. In addition, niclosamide downregulated Stat3 and pro-survival Bcl-2 family members such as Mcl-1 and repressed the viral gene transcription of HTLV-1 through induction of Tax degradation. Since Tax, Stat3 and Mcl-1 are crucial molecules for promoting survival and growth of HTLV-1-transformed T cells, our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism of niclosamide in inducing Tax degradation and downregulating various cellular pro-survival molecules, thereby promoting apoptosis of HTLV-1-associated leukemia cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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