The baculovirus AcMNPV induces apoptosis in a host-specific manner which involves the activation of host caspases (cysteine-dependent, aspartate-specific proteases). AcMNPV carries a novel gene, p35, which encodes a stoichiometric inhibitor of active caspases, thereby blocking apoptosis. P35 is cleaved by caspases and the cleavage products form a stable complex with the caspase. Baculoviruses also carry genes known as iaps (inhibitors of apoptosis), some of which can actively suppress apoptosis by inhibiting the activation of caspases. Members of the IAP family are found in both viral and animal genomes and interact physically with a variety of proteins associated with apoptotic pathways including Reaper, Doom, TRAF2, and some caspases. The ability of baculoviruses to block apoptosis influences their pathogenicity and host range.
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