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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Sep;1813(9):1634-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2010.12.009. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

How viruses access the nucleus.

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Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Many viruses depend on nuclear proteins for replication. Therefore, their viral genome must enter the nucleus of the host cell. In this review we briefly summarize the principles of nucleocytoplasmic transport, and then describe the diverse strategies used by viruses to deliver their genomes into the host nucleus. Some of the emerging mechanisms include: (1) nuclear entry during mitosis, when the nuclear envelope is disassembled, (2) viral genome release in the cytoplasm followed by entry of the genome through the nuclear pore complex (NPC), (3) capsid docking at the cytoplasmic side of the NPC, followed by genome release, (4) nuclear entry of intact capsids through the NPC, followed by genome release, and (5) nuclear entry via virus-induced disruption of the nuclear envelope. Which mechanism a particular virus uses depends on the size and structure of the virus, as well as the cellular cues used by the virus to trigger capsid disassembly and genome release. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Regulation of Signaling and Cellular Fate through Modulation of Nuclear Protein Import.

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