Study provides insights into how Zika virus suppresses the host immune system

Jikui Song (left) and Rong Hai

A research team led by Jikui Song and Rong Hai at the University of California, Riverside, has outlined how the Zika virus, which constituted an epidemic threat in 2016, suppresses the immune system of its host.

The study appears in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The research involved first solving the crystal structure of a complex between a large fragment of ZIKV NS5 and STAT2. This crystal structure guided the researchers in solving the cryo-EM structure of ZIKV NS5 and STAT2, which then led them to come up with a model for how ZIKV NS5 suppresses human STAT2.

Next, the researchers will work on the structure and function of SARS-CoV-2 proteins to identify new targets against COVID-19.

Song and Hai were joined in the study by Z. Hong Zhou at UCLA, also a senior author of the research paper. Other coauthors include UCR’s Boxiao Wang and Stephanie Thurmond. Kang Zhou at UCLA and Maria T. Sánchez-Aparicio at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai share co-first authorship with Wang and Thurmond.

Song was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, and a University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee Faculty Seed Grant. A second NIH grant funded both Song and Hai.

The research paper is titled “Structural basis for STAT2 suppression by flavivirus NS5.”

This UCR News article was written by Iqbal Pittalwala and can be read in full here.