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Title: Bioinformatics Analysis of Zika Virus-Induced Genes Associated With Neurodevelopmental Illnesses and Neurological Pathways

Name: Po-Lun Kung

Major: CBN, Communication

School affiliation: School of Arts and Sciences

Programs: Division of Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (DLS-SURF)

Other contributors: Brian P. Daniels and Colm Atkins

Abstract: Congenital Zika syndrome is a unique collection of birth defects and disabilities associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during pregnancy. Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during early-term pregnancy resulted in viral dissemination to the fetus, leading to morphological abnormalities during fetal development, such as microencephaly. However, whether ZIKV infection results in behavioral and neurocognitive abnormalities in offspring remains unknown. This study uses previous microarray data to investigate significant neurological pathways and relevant alterations to gene expression linked with neurodevelopmental disorders. Gene expression was analyzed using bioinformatics, including gene ontology analysis using PANTHER, the GEO2R database, and Prism. Significant associations to gene alterations were found between behavioral disorders and ZIKV infection in embryonic neurons. Ontological pathways involved with neurological function were affected by neuronal ZIKV infection, as well. Based on these findings, there are implications of ZIKV infection impairing neurodevelopment and cognitive ability. Such studies could have a significant impact on the future development of therapeutic and intervention strategies. These findings will support future work with in vivo mouse models investigating how ZIKV-infection impacts the offspring’s development and behavior.