Myeloid cell interferon secretion restricts Zika flavivirus infection of developing and malignant human neural progenitor cells

Zika virus (ZIKV) can infect human developing brain (HDB) progenitors resulting in epidemic microcephaly, whereas analogous cellular tropism offers treatment potential for the adult brain cancer, glioblastoma (GBM). We compared productive ZIKV infection in HDB and GBM primary tissue explants that both contain SOX2+ neural progenitors. Strikingly, although the HDB proved uniformly vulnerable to ZIKV infection, GBM was more refractory, and this correlated with an innate immune expression signature. Indeed, GBM-derived CD11b+ microglia/macrophages were necessary and sufficient to protect progenitors against ZIKV infection in a non-cell autonomous manner. Using SOX2+ GBM cell lines, we found that CD11b+-conditioned medium containing type 1 interferon beta (IFNbeta) promoted progenitor resistance to ZIKV, whereas inhibition of JAK1/2 signaling restored productive infection. Additionally, CD11b+ conditioned medium, and IFNbeta treatment rendered HDB progenitor lines and explants refractory to ZIKV. These findings provide insight into neuroprotection for HDB progenitors as well as enhanced GBM oncolytic therapies.

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