Anti-apoptotic genes of baculoviruses

R. J. Clem, J. M. Hardwick, L. K. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Baculoviruses possess two different classes of genes with anti-apoptotic activity: p35 and iap. The p35 gene product (P35) is able to block apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli in phylogenetically diverse organisms. P35 has recently been shown to be capable of inhibiting the ICE/ced-3 family of cysteine proteases, a family of enzymes which are implicated in cell death and which exhibit specificity for cleavage at aspartate residues. The products of the iap genes are a distinct class of proteins containing a carboxyl ring finger and tandem duplications of a unique motif known as the BIR motif. Homologues of the baculovirus iap genes have been identified in the human genome. Both classes of baculovirus anti-apoptotic genes will continue to be important tools in defining the pathways involved in apoptosis. Since our demonstration in 1991 that a baculovirus prevents host cells from undergoing apoptosis by expressing a gene known as p35, the study of baculovirus-induced apoptosis and the anti-apoptotic genes they possess has led to discoveries with far-reaching implications for viral pathogenesis, human disease, and the study of cell death. It is now known that a variety of eukaryotic viruses encode genes which allow them to control cellular apoptosis. Understanding the mechanism(s) by which these viral gene products act provides fundamental insights into the pathways regulating apoptosis. In this review, we discuss the inhibition of apoptosis by baculoviruses, concentrating mainly on the nature and mechanism of action of the two classes of baculovirus genes, p35 and iap, which are able to control apoptosis in a diversity of eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalCell Death and Differentation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Baculovirus
  • ICE
  • iap
  • p35

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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