• The Envelope Residues E152/156/158 of Zika Virus Influence the Early Stages of Virus Infection in Human Cells

      Bos, Sandra; Viranaicken, Wildriss; Frumence, Etienne; Li, Ge; Desprès, Philippe; Zhao, Richard Y.; Gadea, Gilles (MDPI AG, 2019-11-15)
      Emerging infections of mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) pose an increasing threat to human health, as documented over the recent years in South Pacific islands and the Americas in recent years. To better understand molecular mechanisms underlying the increase in human cases with severe pathologies, we recently demonstrated the functional roles of structural proteins capsid (C), pre-membrane (prM), and envelop (E) of ZIKV epidemic strains with the initiation of viral infection in human cells. Specifically, we found that the C-prM region contributes to permissiveness of human host cells to ZIKV infection and ZIKV-induced cytopathic effects, whereas the E protein is associated with viral attachment and early infection. In the present study, we further characterize ZIKV E proteins by investigating the roles of residues isoleucine 152 (Ile152), threonine 156 (Thr156), and histidine 158 (His158) (i.e., the E-152/156/158 residues), which surround a unique N-glycosylation site (E-154), in permissiveness of human host cells to epidemic ZIKV infection. For comparison purpose, we generated mutant molecular clones of epidemic BeH819015 (BR15) and historical MR766-NIID (MR766) strains that carry each other's E-152/156/158 residues, respectively. We observed that the BR15 mutant containing the E-152/156/158 residues from MR766 was less infectious in A549-Dual™ cells than parental virus. In contrast, the MR766 mutant containing E-152/156/158 residues from BR15 displayed increased infectivity. The observed differences in infectivity were, however, not correlated with changes in viral binding onto host-cells or cellular responses to viral infection. Instead, the E-152/156/158 residues from BR15 were associated with an increased efficiency of viral membrane fusion inside infected cells due to conformational changes of E protein that enhance exposure of the fusion loop. Our data highlight an important contribution of E-152/156/158 residues to the early steps of ZIKV infection in human cells.
    • Probing molecular insights into Zika virus–host interactions

      Lee, I.; Bos, S.; Li, G. (MDPI AG, 2018)
      The recent Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas surprised all of us because of its rapid spread and association with neurologic disorders including fetal microcephaly, brain and ocular anomalies, and Guillain–Barré syndrome. In response to this global health crisis, unprecedented and world-wide efforts are taking place to study the ZIKV-related human diseases. Much has been learned about this virus in the areas of epidemiology, genetic diversity, protein structures, and clinical manifestations, such as consequences of ZIKV infection on fetal brain development. However, progress on understanding the molecular mechanism underlying ZIKV-associated neurologic disorders remains elusive. To date, we still lack a good understanding of; (1) what virologic factors are involved in the ZIKV-associated human diseases; (2) which ZIKV protein(s) contributes to the enhanced viral pathogenicity; and (3) how do the newly adapted and pandemic ZIKV strains alter their interactions with the host cells leading to neurologic defects? The goal of this review is to explore the molecular insights into the ZIKV-host interactions with an emphasis on host cell receptor usage for viral entry, cell innate immunity to ZIKV, and the ability of ZIKV to subvert antiviral responses and to cause cytopathic effects. We hope this literature review will inspire additional molecular studies focusing on ZIKV-host Interactions. Copyright 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
    • The roles of prM-E proteins in historical and epidemic zika virus-mediated infection and neurocytotoxicity

      Li, G.; Bos, S.; Tsetsarkin, K.A. (MDPI AG, 2019)
      The Zika virus (ZIKV) was first isolated in Africa in 1947. It was shown to be a mild virus that had limited threat to humans. However, the resurgence of the ZIKV in the most recent Brazil outbreak surprised us because it causes severe human congenital and neurologic disorders including microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. Studies showed that the epidemic ZIKV strains are phenotypically different from the historic strains, suggesting that the epidemic ZIKV has acquired mutations associated with the altered viral pathogenicity. However, what genetic changes are responsible for the changed viral pathogenicity remains largely unknown. One of our early studies suggested that the ZIKV structural proteins contribute in part to the observed virologic differences. The objectives of this study were to compare the historic African MR766 ZIKV strain with two epidemic Brazilian strains (BR15 and ICD) for their abilities to initiate viral infection and to confer neurocytopathic effects in the human brain's SNB-19 glial cells, and further to determine which part of the ZIKV structural proteins are responsible for the observed differences. Our results show that the historic African (MR766) and epidemic Brazilian (BR15 and ICD) ZIKV strains are different in viral attachment to host neuronal cells, viral permissiveness and replication, as well as in the induction of cytopathic effects. The analysis of chimeric viruses, generated between the MR766 and BR15 molecular clones, suggests that the ZIKV E protein correlates with the viral attachment, and the C-prM region contributes to the permissiveness and ZIKV-induced cytopathic effects. The expression of adenoviruses, expressing prM and its processed protein products, shows that the prM protein and its cleaved Pr product, but not the mature M protein, induces apoptotic cell death in the SNB-19 cells. We found that the Pr region, which resides on the N-terminal side of prM protein, is responsible for prM-induced apoptotic cell death. Mutational analysis further identified four amino-acid residues that have an impact on the ability of prM to induce apoptosis. Together, the results of this study show that the difference of ZIKV-mediated viral pathogenicity, between the historic and epidemic strains, contributed in part the functions of the structural prM-E proteins. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
    • Zika virus: Recent advances towards the development of vaccines and therapeutics

      McArthur, M.A. (MDPI AG, 2017)
      Zika is a rapidly emerging public health threat. Although clinical infection is frequently mild, significant neurological manifestations have been demonstrated in infants born to Zika virus (ZIKV) infected mothers. Due to the substantial ramifications of intrauterine infection, effective counter-measures are urgently needed. In order to develop effective anti-ZIKV vaccines and therapeutics, improved animal models and a better understanding of immunological correlates of protection against ZIKV are required. This review will summarize what is currently known about ZIKV, the clinical manifestations and epidemiology of Zika as well as, the development of animal models to study ZIKV infection, host immune responses against ZIKV, and the current state of development of vaccines and therapeutics against ZIKV. Copyright 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.