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HTLV-2 APH-2 expression is correlated with proviral load but APH-2 does not promote lymphocytosis.

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We recently discovered the antisense protein of human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV) type 2 (APH-2), whose messenger RNA is encoded by the antisense strand of the HTLV-2 genome. We quantified proviral load, level of tax, and APH-2 in a series of blood samples obtained from a cohort of HTLV-2 carriers. We determined whether APH-2 promotes cell proliferation. APH-2 was detectable in most samples tested and was correlated with proviral load. APH-2 levels were not correlated with lymphocyte count in vivo, consistent with the inability of APH-2 to promote cell proliferation in vitro. APH-2 does not promote cell proliferation and does not cause lymphocytosis.

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