"Zikacephaly" - Implication of host protein crosstalks with Zika
Zika virus infection has been associated with adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes with numerous neurological complications such as microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities. When a virus infects a host cell, it alters host cell protein production and interaction network by hijacking and competing with host proteins. The outcome of infection is determined by complex host-virus interactions. Having insights into the host's responses to viruses would help define targets for therapeutic intervention. Hence, the study aims to identify the human host proteins, particularly brain proteins that interact with the Zika virus and decipher their roles in Zika neuropathogenesis. Firstly, high-throughput yeast two-hybrid screening system is used to determine the host proteins that interact with the Zika virus. Then, the role of the identified host proteins in Zika neuropathogenesis will be studied by fine-tuning their expression using the CRISPR/Cas9 method. The findings of this study will uncover the major pathways in developing human brains subversed by the Zika virus during infection and could lead to the identification of potential host targets for the development of antiviral drugs.