High-throughput #screening identifies mixed lineage kinase 3 as a key #host regulatory #factor in #Zika virus #infection (J Virol., abstract)

[Source: Journal of Virology, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

High-throughput screening identifies mixed lineage kinase 3 as a key host regulatory factor in Zika virus infection

Hua Xu, Min Cheng, Xiaojing Chi, Xiuying Liu, Jia Zhou, Tianli Lin, Wei Yang

DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00758-19



The Zika virus (ZIKV) life cycle involves multiple steps and requires interactions with host factors. However, the inability to systematically identify host regulatory factors for ZIKV has hampered antiviral development and our understanding of pathogenicity. Here, using a bioactive compound library with 2659 small molecules, we applied a high-throughput and imaging-based screen to identify host factors that modulate ZIKV infection. The screen yielded hundreds of hits that markedly inhibited or potentiated ZIKV infection in SNB-19 glioblastoma cells. Among the hits, URMC-099, a mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) inhibitor, significantly facilitated ZIKV replication in both SNB-19 cells and the neonatal mouse brain. Using gene silencing and overexpression, we further confirmed that MLK3 was a host restriction factor against ZIKV. Mechanistically, MLK3 negatively regulated ZIKV replication through inducing the inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α and MCP-1 but did not modulate host interferon related pathways. Importantly, ZIKV activated the MLK3/MKK7/JNK pathway in both SNB-19 cells and neonatal mouse brain. Together, these findings reveal a critical role for MLK3 in regulating ZIKV infection and facilitate the development of anti-ZIKV therapeutics by providing a number of screening hits.



Zika fever, an infectious disease caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV), normally results in mild symptoms. Severe infection can cause Guillain–Barré syndrome in adults and birth defects, including microcephaly, in newborns. Although ZIKV was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys, a widespread epidemic of ZIKV infection in South and Central America in 2015-2016 raised major concerns. To date, there is no vaccine or specific medicine for ZIKV. The significance of our research is the systematic discovery of small molecule candidates that modulate ZIKV infection, which will allow the development of antiviral therapeutics. In addition, we identified MLK3, a key mediator of host signaling pathways that can be activated during ZIKV infection and limits virus replication by inducing multiple inflammatory cytokines. These findings broaden our understanding of ZIKV pathogenesis.

Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Keywords: Zika Virus; Viral pathogenesis.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.