Many of the human viruses with oncogenic capabilities, either in their natural host or in experimental systems (hepatitis B and C, human T cell leukaemia virus type 1, Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus, human immunodeficiency virus, high-risk human papillomaviruses and adenovirus type 9), encode in their limited genome the ability to target cellular proteins containing PSD95/ DLG/ZO-1 (PDZ) interaction modules. In many cases (but not always), the viruses have evolved to bind the PDZ domains using the same short linear peptide motifs found in host protein-PDZ interactions, and in some cases regulate the interactions in a similar fashion by phosphorylation. What is striking is that the diverse viruses target a common subset of PDZ proteins that are intimately involved in controlling cell polarity and the structure and function of intercellular junctions, including tight junctions. Cell polarity is fundamental to the control of cell proliferation and cell survival and disruption of polarity and the signal transduction pathways involved is a key event in tumourigenesis. This review focuses on the oncogenic viruses and the role of targeting PDZ proteins in the virus life cycle and the contribution of virus-PDZ protein interactions to virus-mediated oncogenesis. We highlight how many of the viral associations with PDZ proteins lead to deregulation of PI3K/AKT signalling, benefitting virus replication but as a consequence also contributing to oncogenesis.
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