Investigations of pro- and anti-apoptotic factors affecting African swine fever virus replication and pathogenesis

African swine fever virus (ASFV) is a large DNA virus that replicates predominantly in the cell cytoplasm and is the only member of the Asfarviridae family. The virus causes an acute haemorrhagic fever, African swine fever (ASF), in domestic pigs and wild boar resulting in the death of most infected animals. Apoptosis is induced at an early stage during virus entry or uncoating. However, ASFV encodes anti-apoptotic proteins which facilitate production of progeny virions. These anti-apoptotic proteins include A179L, a Bcl-2 family member; A224L, an inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) family member; EP153R a C-type lectin; and DP71L. The latter acts by inhibiting activation of the stress activated pro-apoptotic pathways pro-apoptotic pathways. The mechanisms by which these proteins act is summarised. ASF disease is characterised by massive apoptosis of uninfected lymphocytes which reduces the effectiveness of the immune response, contributing to virus pathogenesis. Mechanisms by which this apoptosis is induced are discussed.

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