Zika virus impairs host NLRP3-mediated inflammasome activation in an NS3-dependent manner

Eunji Gim, Do Wan Shim, Inhwa Hwang, Ok Sarah Shin, Je Wook Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus associated with severe neurological disorders including Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly. The host innate immune responses against ZIKV infection are essential for protection; however, ZIKV has evolved strategies to evade and antagonize antiviral responses via its nonstructural (NS) proteins. Here, we demonstrated that ZIKV infection unexpectedly inhibits NLRP3-dependent inflammasome activation in bone marrow-derived macrophages and mixed glial cells from mouse brain. ZIKV infection led to increased transcript levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-6 via activating NF-κB signaling. However, ZIKV infection failed to trigger the secretion of active caspase-1 and IL-1β from macrophages and glial cells even in the presence of LPS priming or ATP costimulation. Intriguingly, ZIKV infection significantly attenuated NLRP3-dependent, but not absent in melanoma 2-dependent caspase-1 activation and IL-1β secretion from both cells. ZIKV infection further blocked apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain oligomerization in LPS/ATP-stimulated macrophages. Interestingly, expression of ZIKV NS3 protein reduced NLRP3-mediated caspase-1 activation and IL-1β secretion in macrophages, whereas NS1 and NS5 proteins showed no effects. Furthermore, NLRP3 was found to be degraded by the overexpression of ZIKV NS3 in 293T cells. Collectively, these results indicate that ZIKV evades host NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated innate immune responses in macrophages and glial cells; this may facilitate ZIKV's ability to enhance the replication and dissemination in these cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere40
JournalImmune Network
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (2015M3A9B6073856, 2017R1A2B2007467).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019. The Korean Association of Immunologists.


  • Caspase 1
  • Glial cells
  • Inflammasome
  • Macrophages
  • NLRP3
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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