Regulated nucleocytoplasmic trafficking of viral gene products: a therapeutic target?

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Jan;1784(1):213-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2007.08.021. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


The study of viral proteins and host cell factors that interact with them has represented an invaluable contribution to understanding of the physiology as well as associated pathology of key eukaryotic cell processes such as cell cycle regulation, signal transduction and transformation. Similarly, knowledge of nucleocytoplasmic transport is based largely on pioneering studies performed on viral proteins that enabled the first sequences responsible for the facilitated transport through the nuclear pore to be identified. The study of viral proteins has also enabled the discovery of several nucleocytoplasmic regulatory mechanisms, the best characterized being through phosphorylation. Recent delineation of the mechanisms whereby phosphorylation regulates nuclear import and export of key viral gene products encoded by important human pathogens such as human cytomegalovirus dengue virus and respiratory syncytial virus has implications for the development of antiviral therapeutics. In particular, the development of specific and effective kinase inhibitors makes the idea of blocking viral infection by inhibiting the phosphorylation-dependent regulation of viral gene product nuclear transport a real possibility. Additionally, examination of a chicken anemia virus (CAV) protein able to target selectively into the nucleus of tumor but not normal cells, as specifically regulated by phosphorylation, opens the exciting possibility of cancer cell-specific nuclear targeting. The study of nucleoplasmic transport may thus enable the development not only of new antiviral approaches, but also contribute to anti-cancer strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / metabolism*
  • Viruses / pathogenicity


  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Viral Proteins