Zika virus (ZIKV) infection is a major public health problem with severe human congenital and neurological anomalies. The screening of anti-ZIKV compounds and neutralizing antibodies needs reliable and rapid virus-based assays. Here, we described a convenient method leading to the rapid production of molecular clones of ZIKV. To generate a molecular clone of ZIKV strain MR766(NIID), the viral genome was directly assembled into Vero cells after introduction of four overlapping synthetic fragments that cover the full-length genomic RNA sequence. Such strategy has allowed the production of a recombinant ZIKV expressing the GFP reporter gene that is stable over two culturing rounds on Vero cells. Our data demonstrate that the ZIKV reporter virus is a very reliable GFP-based tool for analyzing viral growth and measuring the neutralizing antibody as well as rapid screening of antiviral effect of different classes of inhibitors.
Keywords: Arbovirus; Emerging disease; Flavivirus; GFP reporter; Molecular clones; Recombinant virus; Zika virus.
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