The Zika virus (ZIKV) has received much attention due to an alarming increase in cases of neurological disorders including congenital Zika syndrome associated with infection. To date, there is no effective treatment available. An immediate response by the innate immune system is crucial for effective control of the virus. Using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockouts in A549 cells, we investigated the individual contributions of the RIG-I-like receptors MDA5 and RIG-I to ZIKV sensing and control of this virus by using a Brazilian ZIKV strain. We show that RIG-I is the main sensor for ZIKV in A549 cells. Surprisingly, we observed that loss of RIG-I and consecutive type I interferon (IFN) production led to virus-induced apoptosis. ZIKV non-structural protein NS5 was reported to interfere with type I IFN receptor signaling. Additionally, we show that ZIKV NS5 inhibits type I IFN induction. Overall, our study highlights the importance of RIG-I-dependent ZIKV sensing for the prevention of virus-induced cell death and shows that NS5 inhibits the production of type I IFN.
IFN, IFNAR1, MDA5, NS5, RIG-I, Zika virus, apoptosis