Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28473450
Link to DOI – 10.15252/embj.201695597
EMBO J. 2017 06; 36(12): 1653-1668
The cytopathic effects of Zika virus (ZIKV) are poorly characterized. Innate immunity controls ZIKV infection and disease in most infected patients through mechanisms that remain to be understood. Here, we studied the morphological cellular changes induced by ZIKV and addressed the role of interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITM), a family of broad-spectrum antiviral factors, during viral replication. We report that ZIKV induces massive vacuolization followed by “implosive” cell death in human epithelial cells, primary skin fibroblasts and astrocytes, a phenomenon which is exacerbated when IFITM3 levels are low. It is reminiscent of paraptosis, a caspase-independent, non-apoptotic form of cell death associated with the formation of large cytoplasmic vacuoles. We further show that ZIKV-induced vacuoles are derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and dependent on the PI3K/Akt signaling axis. Inhibiting the Sec61 ER translocon in ZIKV-infected cells blocked vacuole formation and viral production. Our results provide mechanistic insight behind the ZIKV-induced cytopathic effect and indicate that IFITM3, by acting as a gatekeeper for incoming virus, restricts virus takeover of the ER and subsequent cell death.