Construction of an infectious clone of Zika virus stably expressing an EGFP marker in a eukaryotic expression system

Virol J. 2021 Jul 19;18(1):151. doi: 10.1186/s12985-021-01622-z.


Background: Zika virus is becoming one of the most widely transmitted arboviruses in the world. Development of antiviral inhibitor and vaccine requires an experimental system that allows rapid monitoring of the virus infection. This is achievable with a reverse genetic system. In this study, we constructed an infectious clone for Zika virus that stably expressing EGFP.

Methods: A PCR-mediated recombination approach was used to assemble the full-length Zika virus genome containing the CMV promoter, intron, EGFP, hepatitis delta virus ribozyme, and SV40 terminator sequence for cloning into the pBAC11 vector to produce recombinant pBAC-ZIKA-EGFP. ZIKA-EGFP virus was rescued by transfection of pBAC-ZIKA-EGFP into 293T cells. The characterization of ZIKA-EGFP virus was determined by qPCR, plaque assay, CCK-8, and Western blot.

Results: Rescued ZIKA-EGFP virus exhibited stable replication for at least five generations in tissue culture. ZIKA-EGFP can effectively infect C6/36, SH-SY5Y and Vero cells, and cause cytopathic effects on SH-SY5Y and Vero cells. The inhibition of ZIKA-EGFP by NF-κB inhibitor, caffeic acid phenethyl ester was observed by fluorescence microscopy.

Conclusion: Our results suggested that Zika virus infectious clone with an EGFP marker retained it infectivity as wide-type Zika virus which could be used for drugs screening.

Keywords: EGFP marker; Eukaryotic expression; Recombinant virus; Zika virus.