BK Polyomavirus Activates the DNA Damage Response To Prolong S Phase

Academic Article


  • Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology. BK polyomavirus (PyV) is a major source of kidney failure in transplant recipients. The standard treatment for patients with lytic BKPyV infection is to reduce immunosuppressive therapy, which increases the risk of graft rejection. PyVs are DNA viruses that rely upon host replication proteins for viral genome replication. A hallmark of PyV infection is activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) to prevent severe host and viral DNA damage that impairs viral production by an unknown mechanism. Therefore, we sought to better understand why BKPyV activates the DDR through the ATR and ATM pathways and how this prevents DNA damage and leads to increased viral production. When ATR was inhibited in BKPyV-infected primary kidney cells, severe DNA damage occurred due to premature Cdk1 activation, which resulted in mitosis of cells that were actively replicating host DNA in S phase. Conversely, ATM was required for efficient entry into S phase and to prevent normal mitotic entry after G2 phase. The synergistic activation of these DDR kinases promoted and maintained BKPyV-mediated S phase to enhance viral production. In contrast to BKPyV infection, DDR inhibition did not disrupt cell cycle control in uninfected cells. This suggests that DDR inhibitors may be used to specifically target BKPyV-infected cells.IMPORTANCE BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) is an emerging pathogen that reactivates in immunosuppressed organ transplant patients. We wanted to understand why BKPyV-induced activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) enhances viral titers and prevents host DNA damage. Here, we show that the virus activates the DNA damage response in order to keep the infected cells in S phase to replicate the viral DNA. The source of DNA damage was due to actively replicating cells with uncondensed chromosomes entering directly into mitosis when the DDR was inhibited in BKPyV-infected cells. This study clarifies the previously enigmatic role of the DDR during BKPyV infection by demonstrating that the virus activates the DDR to maintain the cells in S phase in order to promote viral replication and that disruption of this cell cycle arrest can lead to catastrophic DNA damage for the host.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22794342
  • Author List

  • Justice JL; Needham JM; Thompson SR
  • Volume

  • 93
  • Issue

  • 14