The recent Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in Americas surprised all of us because of its rapid spread and association with neurologic disorders including fetal microcephaly, brain and ocular anomalies and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In responding to this global health outcry, unprecedented and world-wide efforts are taking place to study the ZIKV etiology. Much have been learned about this virus in the areas of epidemiology, clinical manifestation, viral sequences and protein structures, as well as effects of ZIKV infection on fetal brain development and microcephaly. However, the molecular mechanism underlying ZIKV-mediated neurologic disorders remains elusive. Some critical questions include: 1) what type of virologic changes has taken place that increased the viral virulence? 2) which ZIKV protein(s) is responsible for the enhanced viral pathogenicity? And 3) how the newly adapted and pathogenic ZIKV strains alter their interactions with host cells leading to neurologic disorders? The goal of this review is to explore the molecular insights into the ZIKV-host interactions with special focuses on host cell receptor usage for viral entry, host cellular and immune antiviral responses, ZIKV counteraction and ZIKV-induced cytopathic effects. Our hope with this literature review is to inspire additional studies focusing on molecular studies of ZIKV-host Interactions.
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