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Adenovirus dampens the host’s DNA damage response – implications for viral control and cancer therapy

Adenoviruses (Ad) are everywhere, and while they pose limited threat in individuals with healthy immune systems, they cause significant disease burden in immunocompromised patients. A study published in PLOS Pathogens reports on a new mechanism by which the virus interferes with the host’s ability to detect and eliminate viral intruders.

In the context of Ad infection, a virus protein called E4orf4 is a multifunctional regulator of viral gene expression. When present at high levels on its own, E4orf4 induces cell death, and cancer cells are especially susceptible. Understanding how E4orf4 works is therefore potentially relevant for the control of Ad as well as cancer.

Cells infected with a virus lacking E4orf4
Cells infected with a virus lacking E4orf4 (top) or a virus expressing this protein (bottom) were stained by fluorescent antibodies showing the presence of the virus (green) and activation of the DDR (red)
Image Credit: Brestovitsky et al.