Role and fate of PML nuclear bodies in response to interferon and viral infections

Oncogene. 2001 Oct 29;20(49):7274-86. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204854.


Interferons (IFNs) are a family of secreted proteins with antiviral, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory activities. The different biological actions of IFN are believed to be mediated by the products of specifically induced cellular genes in the target cells. The promyelocytic leukaemia (PML) protein localizes both in the nucleoplasm and in matrix-associated multi-protein complexes known as nuclear bodies (NBs). PML is essential for the proper formation and the integrity of the NBs. Modification of PML by the Small Ubiquitin MOdifier (SUMO) was shown to be required for its localization in NBs. The number and the intensity of PML NBs increase in response to interferon (IFN). Inactivation of the IFN-induced PML gene by its fusion to retinoic acid receptor alpha alters the normal localization of PML from the punctuate nuclear patterns of NBs to micro-dispersed tiny dots and results in uncontrolled growth in Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia. The NBs-associated proteins, PML, Sp100, Sp140, Sp110, ISG20 and PA28 are induced by IFN suggesting that nuclear bodies could play a role in IFN response. Although the function of PML NBs is still unclear, some results indicate that they may represent preferential targets for viral infections and that PML could play a role in the mechanism of the antiviral action of IFNs. Viruses, which require the cellular machinery for their replication, have evolved different ways to counteract the action of IFN by inhibiting IFN signalling, by blocking the activities of specific antiviral mediators or by altering PML expression and/or localization on nuclear bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus Structures / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus Structures / metabolism*
  • DNA Virus Infections / metabolism*
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Interferons / metabolism*
  • Interferons / pharmacology
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / metabolism
  • Myxovirus Resistance Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Organelles / drug effects
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA Virus Infections / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • Enzymes
  • Myxovirus Resistance Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • PML protein, human
  • Interferons
  • GTP-Binding Proteins