Screening for genes differentially expressed in placental tissues, aiming to identify transcriptional signatures that may be involved in ZIKV congenital pathogenesis.
Transcriptome data from placental tissues of pregnant women naturally infected with Zika virus during the third trimester were compared to those from women who tested negative for Zika infection. The findings were validated using both a cell culture model and an immunohistochemistry/morphological analysis of naturally infected placental tissues.
Transcriptome analysis revealed that Zika virus infection induces downregulation of insulin-like growth factor II (IGF2) gene, an essential factor for fetal development. The Caco-2 cell culture model that constitutively expresses IGF2 was used for the transcriptome validation. Asiatic and African Zika virus strains infection caused downregulated IGF2 gene expression in Caco-2 cells, whereas other flaviviruses, such as dengue serotype 1, West Nile and wild-type yellow fever viruses, had no effect on this gene expression. Immunohistochemical assays on decidual tissues corroborated our transcriptome analysis, showing that IGF2 is reduced in the decidua of Zika virus-infected women.
Our results draw attention to IGF2 modulation in uterine tissues, and this finding is expected to support future studies on strategies to ameliorate the harmful effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.