Induction of APOBEC3-mediated genomic damage in urothelium implicates BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) as a hit-and-run driver for bladder cancer

Simon C. Baker, Andrew S. Mason, Raphael G. Slip, Katie T. Skinner, Andrew Macdonald, Omar Masood, Reuben S. Harris, Tim R. Fenton, Manikandan Periyasamy, Simak Ali, Jennifer Southgate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Limited understanding of bladder cancer aetiopathology hampers progress in reducing incidence. Mutational signatures show the anti-viral apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide (APOBEC) enzymes are responsible for the preponderance of mutations in bladder tumour genomes, but no causative viral agent has been identified. BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) is a common childhood infection that remains latent in the adult kidney, where reactivation leads to viruria. This study provides missing mechanistic evidence linking reactivated BKPyV-infection to bladder cancer risk. We used a mitotically-quiescent, functionally-differentiated model of normal human urothelium to examine BKPyV-infection. BKPyV-infection led to significantly elevated APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B protein, increased deaminase activity and greater numbers of apurinic/apyrimidinic sites in the host urothelial genome. BKPyV Large T antigen (LT-Ag) stimulated re-entry from G0 into the cell cycle through inhibition of retinoblastoma protein and activation of EZH2, E2F1 and FOXM1, with cells arresting in G2. The single-stranded DNA displacement loops formed in urothelial cells during BKPyV-infection interacted with LT-Ag to provide a substrate for APOBEC3-activity. Addition of interferon gamma (IFNγ) to infected urothelium suppressed expression of the viral genome. These results support reactivated BKPyV infections in adults as a risk factor for bladder cancer in immune-insufficient populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2139-2151
Number of pages13
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 8 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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