Transcriptional signatures of Zika virus infection in astrocytes

J Neurovirol. 2021 Feb;27(1):116-125. doi: 10.1007/s13365-020-00931-3. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


Astrocytes are an early and important target of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in the developing brain, but the impacts of infection on astrocyte function remain controversial. Given that nonhuman primate (NHP) models of ZIKV infection replicate aspects of neurologic disease seen in human infections, we cultured primary astrocytes from the brain tissue of infant rhesus macaques and then infected the cells with Asian or African lineage ZIKV to identify transcriptional patterns associated with infection in these cells. The African lineage virus appeared to have greater infectivity and promote stronger antiviral signaling, but infection by either strain ultimately produced typical virus response patterns. Both viruses induced hypoxic stress, but the Asian lineage strain additionally had an effect on metabolic and lipid biosynthesis pathways. Together, these findings describe an NHP astrocyte model that may be used to assess transcriptional signatures following ZIKV infection.

Keywords: Astrocytes; Nonhuman primates; RNA sequencing; Zika virus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / virology*
  • Brain / virology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Transcriptome*
  • Zika Virus
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology*