Merkel cell polyomavirus small T antigen induces genome instability by E3 ubiquitin ligase targeting

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The formation of a bipolar mitotic spindle is an essential process for the equal segregation of duplicated DNA into two daughter cells during mitosis. As a result of deregulated cellular signaling pathways, cancer cells often suffer a loss of genome integrity that might etiologically contribute to carcinogenesis. Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) small T (sT) oncoprotein induces centrosome overduplication, aneuploidy, chromosome breakage and the formation of micronuclei by targeting cellular ligases through a sT domain that also inhibits MCV large T oncoprotein turnover. These results provide important insight as to how centrosome number and chromosomal stability can be affected by the E3 ligase targeting capacity of viral oncoproteins such as MCV sT, which may contribute to Merkel cell carcinogenesis.

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