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Flaviviruses limit the cell stress response by preventing the formation of stress granules (SGs) and modulate viral gene expression by subverting different proteins involved in the stress granule pathway. In this study, we investigated the formation of stress granules during Zika virus (ZIKV) infection and the role stress granule proteins play during the viral life cycle. Using immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, we determined that ZIKV disrupted the formation of arsenite-induced stress granules and changed the subcellular distribution, but not the abundance or integrity, of stress granule proteins. We also investigated the role of different stress granule proteins in ZIKV infection by using target-specific short interfering RNAs to deplete Ataxin2, G3BP1, HuR, TIA-1, TIAR, and YB1. Knockdown of TIA-1 and TIAR affected ZIKV protein and RNA levels but not viral titers. Conversely, depletion of Ataxin2 and YB1 decreased virion production despite having only a small effect on ZIKV protein expression. Notably, however, depletion of G3BP1 and HuR decreased and increased ZIKV gene expression and virion production, respectively. Using an MR766 Gaussia Luciferase reporter genome together with knockdown and overexpression assays, G3BP1 and HuR were found to modulate ZIKV replication. These data indicate that ZIKV disrupts the formation of stress granules by sequestering stress granule proteins required for replication, where G3BP1 functions to promote ZIKV infection while HuR exhibits an antiviral effect. The results of ZIKV relocalizing and subverting select stress granule proteins might have broader consequences on cellular RNA homeostasis and contribute to cellular gene dysregulation and ZIKV pathogenesis.IMPORTANCE Many viruses inhibit SGs. In this study, we observed that ZIKV restricts SG assembly, likely by relocalizing and subverting specific SG proteins to modulate ZIKV replication. This ZIKV-SG protein interaction is interesting, as many SG proteins are also known to function in neuronal granules, which are critical in neural development and function. Moreover, dysregulation of different SG proteins in neurons has been shown to play a role in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The likely consequences of ZIKV modulating SG assembly and subverting specific SG proteins are alterations to cellular mRNA transcription, splicing, stability, and translation. Such changes in cellular ribostasis could profoundly affect neural development and contribute to the devastating developmental and neurological anomalies observed following intrauterine ZIKV infection. Our study provides new insights into virus-host interactions and the identification of the SG proteins that may contribute to the unusual pathogenesis associated with this reemerging arbovirus. Copyright © 2019 Bonenfant et al.


Gaston Bonenfant, Nina Williams, Rachel Netzband, Megan C Schwarz, Matthew J Evans, Cara T Pager. Zika Virus Subverts Stress Granules To Promote and Restrict Viral Gene Expression. Journal of virology. 2019 Jun 15;93(12)

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PMID: 30944179

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