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Centrosome and retroviruses: The dangerous liaisons

Philippe V Afonso1, Alessia Zamborlini2, Ali Saïb2* and Renaud Mahieux1*

Author Affiliations

1 Unité d'Epidémiologie et Physiopathologie des Virus Oncogènes, CNRS URA 3015, Département de Virologie, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue du Dr Roux, 75015 Paris, France

2 CNRS UMR7151, Hôpital Saint-Louis, 1 Avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75475 Paris Cedex 10, France

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Retrovirology 2007, 4:27  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-4-27

Published: 14 April 2007


Centrosomes are the major microtubule organizing structures in vertebrate cells. They localize in close proximity to the nucleus for the duration of interphase and play major roles in numerous cell functions. Consequently, any deficiency in centrosome function or number may lead to genetic instability. Several viruses including retroviruses such as, Foamy Virus, HIV-1, JSRV, M-PMV and HTLV-1 have been shown to hamper centrosome functions for their own profit, but the outcomes are very different. Foamy viruses, HIV-1, JSRV, M-PMV and HTLV-1 use the cellular machinery to traffic towards the centrosome during early and/or late stages of the infection. In addition HIV-1 Vpr protein alters the cell-cycle regulation by hijacking centrosome functions. Enthrallingly, HTLV-1 Tax expression also targets the functions of the centrosome, and this event is correlated with centrosome amplification, aneuploidy and transformation.