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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 683095, 18 pages
Review Article

The Role of Cytidine Deaminases on Innate Immune Responses against Human Viral Infections

1Programa de Oncovirologia, Instituto Nacional de Câncer, Rua André Cavalcanti, No. 37–4  Andar, Bairro de Fátima, 20231-050 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 21949-570 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 16 March 2013; Revised 29 May 2013; Accepted 31 May 2013

Academic Editor: Enrique Medina-Acosta

Copyright © 2013 Valdimara C. Vieira and Marcelo A. Soares. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The APOBEC family of proteins comprises deaminase enzymes that edit DNA and/or RNA sequences. The APOBEC3 subgroup plays an important role on the innate immune system, acting on host defense against exogenous viruses and endogenous retroelements. The role of APOBEC3 proteins in the inhibition of viral infection was firstly described for HIV-1. However, in the past few years many studies have also shown evidence of APOBEC3 action on other viruses associated with human diseases, including HTLV, HCV, HBV, HPV, HSV-1, and EBV. APOBEC3 inhibits these viruses through a series of editing-dependent and independent mechanisms. Many viruses have evolved mechanisms to counteract APOBEC effects, and strategies that enhance APOBEC3 activity constitute a new approach for antiviral drug development. On the other hand, novel evidence that editing by APOBEC3 constitutes a source for viral genetic diversification and evolution has emerged. Furthermore, a possible role in cancer development has been shown for these host enzymes. Therefore, understanding the role of deaminases on the immune response against infectious agents, as well as their role in human disease, has become pivotal. This review summarizes the state-of-the-art knowledge of the impact of APOBEC enzymes on human viruses of distinct families and harboring disparate replication strategies.