Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Large T Antigen Induces Cellular Senescence for Host Growth Arrest and Viral Genome Persistence through Its Unique Domain

Alexander M. Pham, Luz E. Ortiz, Aron E. Lukacher, Hyun Jin Kwun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Senescent cells accumulate in the host during the aging process and are associated with age-related pathogeneses, including cancer. Although persistent senescence seems to contribute to many aspects of cellular pathways and homeostasis, the role of senescence in virus-induced human cancer is not well understood. Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive skin cancer induced by a life-long human infection of Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Here, we show that MCPyV large T (LT) antigen expression in human skin fibroblasts causes a novel nucleolar stress response, followed by p21-dependent senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotypes (SASPs), which are required for MCPyV genome maintenance. Senolytic and navitoclax treatments result in decreased senescence and MCPyV genome levels, suggesting a potential therapeutic for MCC prevention. Our results uncover the mechanism of a host stress response regulating human polyomavirus genome maintenance in viral persistency, which may lead to targeted intervention for MCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number380
JournalCells
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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