Perspective: APOBEC mutagenesis in drug resistance and immune escape in HIV and cancer evolution

Ann Oncol. 2018 Mar 1;29(3):563-572. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdy003.


The apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) mutational signature has only recently been detected in a multitude of cancers through next-generation sequencing. In contrast, APOBEC has been a focus of virology research for over a decade. Many lessons learnt regarding APOBEC within virology are likely to be applicable to cancer. In this review, we explore the parallels between the role of APOBEC enzymes in HIV and cancer evolution. We discuss data supporting the role of APOBEC mutagenesis in creating HIV genome heterogeneity, drug resistance, and immune escape variants. We hypothesize similar functions of APOBEC will also hold true in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • APOBEC Deaminases / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance / physiology*
  • HIV / genetics
  • HIV Infections / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / physiology
  • Mutagenesis / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*


  • APOBEC Deaminases