Human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) is associated with adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATLL). To examine the relationship between defective HTLV-I proviruses and clinicopathological features, we examined 95 patients with ATLL showing clonal integration of HTL-I proviral DNA; 77 patients (81%) showed 1 clonal band, 15 (16%) showed 2 clonal bands, and 3 (3%) showed 3 clonal bands. In addition, the defective proviral form was detected in 28 patients (29%): 23 (30%) of the 77 with 1 clonal band, 4(27%) of the 15 with 2 clonal bands, and 1(33%) of the 3 with 3 clonal bands. The numbers of clonal bands had no association with the presence of defective proviruses. We classified the 95 patients with ATLL into four types according to clinicopathological features (smoldering leukemia, chronic leukemia, acute leukemia, and lymphoma types). The distribution of patients with the defective form was not different among these four types. The HTLV-I genomes must have integrated into the human genome DNA and been deleted partially in the cells. The defective form was kept during the clinical stage. All patients with the defective form showed defect of the gag or/and env region. No patient had a defect of the pX region. These data suggest that the pX region of HTLV-I must have played an important role in ATLL genesis.

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Supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Encouragement of Young Scientists from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Japan.

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