Neuroblastoma is the second most common childhood tumor. Survival is poor even with intensive therapy. In a search for therapies to neuroblastoma, we assessed the oncolytic potential of Zika virus. Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne pathogen unique among flaviviruses because of its association with congenital defects. Recent studies have shown that neuronal progenitor cells are likely the human target of Zika virus. Neuroblastoma has been shown to be responsive to infection. In this study, we show that neuroblastoma cells are widely permissive to Zika infection, revealing extensive cytopathic effects (CPE) and producing high titers of virus. However, a single cell line appeared poorly responsive to infection, producing undetectable levels of non-structural protein 1 (NS1), limited CPE, and low virus titers. A comparison of these poorly permissive cells to highly permissive neuroblastoma cells revealed a dramatic loss in the expression of the cell surface glycoprotein CD24 in poorly permissive cells. Complementation of CD24 expression in these cells led to the production of detectable levels of NS1 expression after infection with Zika, as well as dramatic increases in viral titers and CPE. Complementary studies using the Zika virus index strain and a north African isolate confirmed these phenotypes. These results suggest a possible role for CD24 in host cell specificity by Zika virus and offer a potential therapeutic target for its treatment. In addition, Zika viral therapy can serve as an adjunctive treatment for neuroblastoma by targeting tumor cells that can lead to recurrent disease and treatment failure.
Mazar, J., Li, Y., Rosado, A., Phelan, P., Kedarinath, K., Parks, G. D., … Westmoreland, T. J. (2018). Zika virus as an oncolytic treatment of human neuroblastoma cells requires CD24. PLoS ONE, 13(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200358