Viral Bcl-2 homologs and their role in virus replication and associated diseases

Brian M. Polster, Jonathan Pevsner, J. Marie Hardwick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Cellular Bcl-2 family proteins regulate a critical step in the mammalian programmed cell death pathway by modulating mitochondrial permeability and function. Bcl-2 family proteins are also encoded by several large DNA viruses, including all known gamma herpesviruses, adenoviruses, and several other unrelated viruses. Viral Bcl-2 proteins can prevent cell death but often escape cellular regulatory mechanisms that govern their cellular counterparts. By evading the "altruistic" suicide of infected cells, viruses can ensure replication and propagation in the infected host, but sometimes in surprising ways. Many human cancers and other disorders are associated with viruses that encode Bcl-2 homologs. Here we consider the available mechanistic data for viral compared to cellular Bcl-2 protein function along with relevance to the virus life cycle and human disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-227
Number of pages17
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Adenovirus
  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2
  • Epstein-Barr
  • Gamma herpesvirus
  • Kaposi's sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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