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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):a012351. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012351.

Tinkering with translation: protein synthesis in virus-infected cells.

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Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites, and their replication requires host cell functions. Although the size, composition, complexity, and functions encoded by their genomes are remarkably diverse, all viruses rely absolutely on the protein synthesis machinery of their host cells. Lacking their own translational apparatus, they must recruit cellular ribosomes in order to translate viral mRNAs and produce the protein products required for their replication. In addition, there are other constraints on viral protein production. Crucially, host innate defenses and stress responses capable of inactivating the translation machinery must be effectively neutralized. Furthermore, the limited coding capacity of the viral genome needs to be used optimally. These demands have resulted in complex interactions between virus and host that exploit ostensibly virus-specific mechanisms and, at the same time, illuminate the functioning of the cellular protein synthesis apparatus.

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