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Nucleus. 2012 Nov-Dec;3(6):526-39. doi: 10.4161/nucl.21979. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Virus strategies for passing the nuclear envelope barrier.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Viruses that replicate in the nucleus need to pass the nuclear envelope barrier during infection. Research in recent years indicates that the nuclear envelope is a major hurdle for many viruses. This review describes strategies to overcome this obstacle developed by seven virus families: herpesviridae, adenoviridae, orthomyxoviridae, lentiviruses (which are part of retroviridae), Hepadnaviridae, parvoviridae and polyomaviridae. Most viruses use the canonical nuclear pore complex (NPC) in order to get their genome into the nucleus. Viral capsids that are larger than the nuclear pore disassemble before or during passing through the NPC, thus allowing genome nuclear entry. Surprisingly, increasing evidence suggest that parvoviruses and polyomaviruses may bypass the nuclear pore by trafficking directly through the nuclear membrane. Additional studies are required for better understanding these processes. Since nuclear entry emerges as the limiting step in infection for many viruses, it may serve as an ideal target for antiviral drug development.

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