What is it about?

Zika virus is a virus spread by mosquitos and was responsible for an outbreak of microcephaly, a brain defect where the fetal brain stops growing and leads to severe developmental delay. In this study, we used a strain of Zika virus from the outbreak and infected human brain stem cells to see if we could better understand how Zika virus causes microcephaly.

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Why is it important?

We found that when Zika virus infects a brain stem cell, the virus disrupts an important pathway responsible for maintenance of stem cells. The disruption of this pathway had many effects, including causing premature development of stem cells, something that is seen during Zika virus infection of fetal brains.


As a neglected tropical disease, Zika virus research is important because there is a possibility of another outbreak. Understanding how Zika impacts the cell it infects could lead to potential interventions to prevent microcephaly or brain development disorders in a future outbreak. Furthermore, the virus provides important information on what happens when a part of a normal cellular pathway does not function correctly, which could lead to potential breakthroughs in other diseases.

Kristoffer Leon
University of California San Francisco

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Nuclear accumulation of host transcripts during Zika Virus Infection, PLoS Pathogens, January 2023, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011070.
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