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Zika Virus Infections Activate Different Pathways in Different Tissues

Infection with the Zika virus triggers different signaling pathways in different cell types, a new tissue-specific transcriptome sequencing study has found. Researchers from Fudan University infected three human cell lines — choriocarcinoma cells (JEG-3), astrocytes (U-251 MG), and renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2) — that represent three tissue types with the Zika virus. As they report in BMC Genomics, the researchers then performed RNA sequencing analysis to find that different signaling pathways were activated in each cell type, as compared to uninfected controls. For instance, the GnRH signaling pathway was activated in JEG-3 cells, while the MAPK signaling pathway was activated in U-251 MG cells and the PPAR signaling pathway in HK-2 cells. The IFN-related pathway, meanwhile, was activated in all three cell lines. Meanwhile, in placenta-derived cells, Zika virus infection led to a delay in interferon response, possibly accounting for why Zika virus can rapidly replicate there. "Together, these data may provide a systemic insight into the pathogenesis of ZIKV infection in distinct human tissue-derived cell lines, which is likely to help develop prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against ZIKV infection," the researchers write.