Signaling events evoked by domain III of envelop glycoprotein of tick-borne encephalitis virus and West Nile virus in human brain microvascular endothelial cells

Sci Rep. 2022 May 25;12(1):8863. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-13043-1.


Tick-borne encephalitis virus and West Nile virus can cross the blood-brain barrier via hematogenous route. The attachment of a virion to the cells of a neurovascular unit, which is mediated by domain III of glycoprotein E, initiates a series of events that may aid viral entry. Thus, we sought to uncover the post-attachment biological events elicited in brain microvascular endothelial cells by domain III. RNA sequencing of cells treated with DIII of TBEV and WNV showed significant alteration in the expression of 309 and 1076 genes, respectively. Pathway analysis revealed activation of the TAM receptor pathway. Several genes that regulate tight-junction integrity were also activated, including pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, cell-adhesion molecules, claudins, and matrix metalloprotease (mainly ADAM17). Results also indicate activation of a pro-apoptotic pathway. TLR2 was upregulated in both cases, but MyD88 was not. In the case of TBEV DIII, a MyD88 independent pathway was activated. Furthermore, both cases showed dramatic dysregulation of IFN and IFN-induced genes. Results strongly suggest that the virus contact to the cell surface emanates a series of events namely viral attachment and diffusion, breakdown of tight junctions, induction of virus uptake, apoptosis, reorganization of the extracellular-matrix, and activation of the innate immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne*
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne* / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • West Nile Fever* / metabolism
  • West Nile virus*


  • Glycoproteins