Breaking Bad: How Viruses Subvert the Cell Cycle

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2018 Nov 19:8:396. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00396. eCollection 2018.


Interactions between the host and viruses during the course of their co-evolution have not only shaped cellular function and the immune system, but also the counter measures employed by viruses. Relatively small genomes and high replication rates allow viruses to accumulate mutations and continuously present the host with new challenges. It is therefore, no surprise that they either escape detection or modulate host physiology, often by redirecting normal cellular pathways to their own advantage. Viruses utilize a diverse array of strategies and molecular targets to subvert host cellular processes, while evading detection. These include cell-cycle regulation, major histocompatibility complex-restricted antigen presentation, intracellular protein transport, apoptosis, cytokine-mediated signaling, and humoral immune responses. Moreover, viruses routinely manipulate the host cell cycle to create a favorable environment for replication, largely by deregulating cell cycle checkpoints. This review focuses on our current understanding of the molecular aspects of cell cycle regulation that are often targeted by viruses. Further study of their interactions should provide fundamental insights into cell cycle regulation and improve our ability to exploit these viruses.

Keywords: cell cycle; checkpoint; degradation; host-pathogen interactions; infection; life cycle; phosphorylation; viruses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins
  • Cyclins
  • Cytokines
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology*
  • Immune System
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Protein Kinases
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena* / immunology
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins
  • Cyclins
  • Cytokines
  • Protein Kinases