Immunoprofiles of human Sertoli cells infected with Zika virus reveals unique insights into host-pathogen crosstalk

Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 7;8(1):8702. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-27027-7.


Confirmed reports of Zika virus (ZIKV) in seminal fluid months after clearance of viremia suggests that ZIKV can establish persistent infection in the seminiferous tubules, an immune privileged site of the testis. The seminiferous tubule epithelium is mainly composed of Sertoli cells that function to nourish and protect developing germ cells. We recently demonstrated that primary human Sertoli cells (hSeC) were highly susceptible to ZIKV as compared to dengue virus without causing cell death and thus may act as a reservoir for ZIKV in the testes. However, the cellular and immune responses of hSeC to infection with ZIKV or any other virus are not yet characterized. Using genome-wide RNA-seq to compare immunoprofiles of hSeC, we show that the most prominent response to ZIKV at early stage of infection was suppression of cell growth and proliferation functional pathways. Peak virus replication was associated with induction of multiple antiviral defense pathways. Unique ZIKV-associated signatures included dysregulation of germ cell-Sertoli cell junction signaling. This study demonstrates that hSeC are capable of signaling through canonical pro-inflammatory pathways and provides insights into unique cell-type-specific response induced by ZIKV in association with viral persistence in the testes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sertoli Cells / immunology*
  • Sertoli Cells / pathology
  • Sertoli Cells / virology
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / immunology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / pathology