E3 Transcription Unit of Adenovirus

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Mammals have innate and adaptive defenses that protect them from virus infections. Viruses, in particular the large DNA viruses (adenoviruses, herpesviruses, poxviruses), have evolved mechanisms that counteract the host’s antiviral defenses. In general, these viruses prevent killing of infected cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), block the inflammatory response, inhibit complement fixation, prevent shut-off of cellular protein synthesis in response to interferon, and block apoptosis (which may be a host defense against virus infection). Reviews have appeared recently on how some of these proteins function (Gooding 1992; G.L. Smith 1994). Here we will focus on the human adenoviruses, in particular the E3 transcription unit, which appears to be, at least in part, a cassette of genes that functions to counteract the host’s antiviral defenses. Recent reviews on this topic are by Pääbo et al. (1989), Wold and Gooding (1989, 1991), Gooding and Wold (1990), Gooding (1992), and Wold (1993).