Identification of various cell culture models for the study of Zika virus

World J Virol. 2018 Feb 12;7(1):10-20. doi: 10.5501/wjv.v7.i1.10.


Aim: To identify cell culture models supportive for Zika virus (ZIKV) replication.

Methods: Various human and non-human cell lines were infected with a defined amount of ZIKV Polynesia strain. Cells were analyzed 48 h post infection for the amount of intracellular and extracellular viral genomes and infectious viral particles by quantitative real-time PCR and virus titration assay. The extent of replication was monitored by immunofluorescence and western blot analysis by using Env and NS1 specific antibodies. Innate immunity was assayed by luciferase reporter assay and immunofluorescence analysis.

Results: All investigated cell lines except CHO cells supported infection, replication and release of ZIKV. While in infected A549 and Vero cells a pronounced cytopathic effect was observed COS7, 293T and Huh7.5 cells were most resistant. Although the analyzed cell lines released comparable amounts of viral genomes to the supernatant significant differences were found for the number of infectious viral particles. The neuronal cell lines N29.1 and SH-SY5Y released 100 times less infectious viral particles than Vero-, A549- or 293T-cells. However there is no strict correlation between the amount of produced viral particles and the induction of an interferon response in the analyzed cell lines.

Conclusion: The investigated cell lines with their different tissue origins and diverging ZIKV susceptibility display a toolbox for ZIKV research.

Keywords: Cell lines; Interferon; Plaque assay; Quantitative real-time PCR; Zika virus.