Apoptin is the Vp3 protein of chicken anemia virus (CAV), which infects the thymocytes and erythroblasts in young chickens, causing chicken infectious anemia and immunosuppression. Apoptin is highly studied for its ability to selectively induce apoptosis in human tumor cells and, thus, is a protein of interest in anti-tumor therapy. CAV apoptin is known to localize to different subcellular compartments in transformed and non-transformed cells, depending on the DNA damage response, and the phosphorylation of several identified threonine residues. In addition, apoptin interacts with molecular machinery such as the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) to inhibit the cell cycle and induce arrest in G2/M phase. While these functions of apoptin contribute to the tumor-selective effect of the protein, they also provide an important fundamental framework to apoptin’s role in viral infection, pathogenesis, and propagation. Here, we reviewed how the regulation, localization, and functions of apoptin contribute to the viral life cycle and postulated its importance in efficient replication of CAV. A model of the molecular biology of infection is critical to informing our understanding of CAV and other related animal viruses that threaten the agricultural industry.
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