Cells have multiple means to induce apoptosis in response to viral infection. Poxviruses must prevent activation of cellular apoptosis to ensure successful replication. These viruses devote a substantial portion of their genome to immune evasion. Many of these immune evasion products expressed during infection antagonize cellular apoptotic pathways. Poxvirus products target multiple points in both the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways, thereby mitigating apoptosis during infection. Interestingly, recent evidence indicates that poxviruses also hijack cellular means of eliminating apoptotic bodies as a means to spread cell to cell through a process called apoptotic mimicry. Poxviruses are the causative agent of many human and veterinary diseases. Further, there is substantial interest in developing these viruses as vectors for a variety of uses including vaccine delivery and as oncolytic viruses to treat certain human cancers. Therefore, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms through which poxviruses regulate the cellular apoptotic pathways remains a top research priority. In this review, we consider anti-apoptotic strategies of poxviruses focusing on three relevant poxvirus genera: Orthopoxvirus
, and Leporipoxvirus
. All three genera express multiple products to inhibit both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways with many of these products required for virulence.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited