Friday, 07 September 2018 21:38

In Vitro: Causes of brain malformations by zika virus discovered Featured

Using a cell line as well as nerve precursor cells, scientists from the University of Munich (TUM) and from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (MPI-B) have discovered the mechanism that leads to microcephaly caused by a Zika virus infection.

Andreas Pichlmair, Professor of Immunopathology of Viral Infections at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and colleagues found out that for its proliferation, the Zika virus uses cellular proteins that are necessary for the neuronal development of the brain. These proteins are then no longer available to the host organism.

In their studies, they used the neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-BE2 and human precursor of nerve cells (hNPC) from human induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patient fibroblasts.

For their studies, the researchers performed a proteomic analysis and identified 386 proteins interacting with the virus. They also identified more than 1,200 phosphorylation sites that had been manipulated by the Zika virus, suggesting that basic signaling pathways such as ATM, AKT-mTOR and ERK-MAPK were being interfered with. This leads to a proliferation arrest of cells of the developing brain resulting in microcephaly.

The scientists have pulished the results in Nature:
Pietro Scaturro, Alexey Stukalov, Darya A. Haas, Mirko Cortese, Kalina Draganova, Anna Płaszczyca, Ralf Bartenschlager, Magdalena Götz & Andreas Pichlmair (2018). An orthogonal proteomic survey uncovers novel Zika virus host factors. Nature 561: 253–257.

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