Identification of a pocket factor that is critical to Zika virus assembly

Nat Commun. 2020 Oct 2;11(1):4953. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18747-4.


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito borne flavivirus and a major public health concern causing severe disease. Due to the presence of a lipid membrane and structural heterogeneity, attaining an atomic resolution structure is challenging, but important to understand virus assembly and life cycle mechanisms that offer distinct targets for therapeutic intervention. We here use subvolume refinement to achieve a 3.4 Å resolution structure and identify two distinct lipid moieties. The first arises from the inner leaflet and is coordinated by hydrophobic residues of the M and E transmembrane helices that form a binding pocket not previously characterized. The second lipid arises from the outer leaflet coordinate between two E protein helices. Structure-based mutagenesis identifies critical hydrophobic interactions and their effect on the virus life cycle. Results show that lipids play an essential role in the ZIKV assembly pathway revealing a potential target of lipid based antiviral drug development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Vero Cells
  • Virion / ultrastructure
  • Virus Assembly / physiology*
  • Zika Virus / isolation & purification
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus / ultrastructure