Can Viral Proteins Stimulate Innate Immunity?

May 23, 2022
PLOS Zika image, Zheng Xing

Innate immunity is the first line of defense in people and animals against invading pathogens, and can be triggered by the ability of the host to recognize RNA and DNA of viruses. Viral proteins, on the other hand, have been shown to reduce host immune responses in order to increase virus replication.  In a recent study, VBS Associate Professor Zheng Xing and his collaborators discovered that certain non-structural proteins of the Zika virus appear to do the opposite: they inhibit replication of the virus by stimulating antiviral host immunity.  The team hypothesizes that this phenomenon might allow Zika virus to infect specific host tissues, such as nerve cells in the brain, at low levels for long periods of time. For more information, please see the recently published article, "Intrinsic features of Zika Virus non-structural proteins NS2A and NS4A in the regulation of viral replication," in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (May 6, 2022).