Hippo Signaling Pathway Has a Critical Role in Zika Virus Replication and in the Pathogenesis of Neuroinflammation

Gustavo Garcia, Sayan Paul, Sara Beshara, V. Krishnan Ramanujan, Arunachalam Ramaiah, Karin Nielsen-Saines, Melody M.H. Li, Samuel W. French, Kouki Morizono, Ashok Kumar, Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a reemerging human pathogen that causes congenital abnormalities, including microcephaly and eye disease. The cellular/molecular basis of ZIKV and host interactions inducing ocular and neuronal pathogenesis are unclear. Herein, we noted that the Hippo/Salvador-Warts-Hippo signaling pathway, which controls organ size through progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation, is dysregulated after ZIKV infection. In human fetal retinal pigment epithelial cells, there is an early induction of transcriptional coactivator, Yes-associated protein (YAP), which is later degraded with a corresponding activation of the TANK binding kinase 1/interferon regulatory factor 3 type I interferon pathway. YAP/transcriptional co-activator with a PDZ-binding domain (TAZ) silencing results in reduced ZIKV replication, indicating a direct role of Hippo pathway in regulating ZIKV infection. Using an in vivo Ifnar1−/− knockout mouse model, ZIKV infection was found to reduce YAP/TAZ protein levels while increasing phosphorylated YAP Ser127 in the retina and brain. Hippo pathway is activated in major cellular components of the blood-brain barrier, including endothelial cells and astrocytes. In addition, this result suggests AMP-activated protein kinase signaling pathway's role in regulating YAP/TAZ in ZIKV-infected cells. These data demonstrate that ZIKV infection might initiate a cross talk among AMP-activated protein kinase–Hippo–TBK1 pathways, which could regulate antiviral and energy stress responses during oculoneuronal inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)844-861
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Hippo Signaling Pathway Has a Critical Role in Zika Virus Replication and in the Pathogenesis of Neuroinflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this