A CRISPR-based screen identifies genes essential for west-nile-virus-induced cell death

Hongming Ma, Ying Dang, Yonggan Wu, Gengxiang Jia, Edgar Anaya, Junli Zhang, Sojan Abraham, Jang Gi Choi, Guojun Shi, Ling Qi, N. Manjunath, Haoquan Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


West Nile virus (WNV) causes an acute neurological infection attended by massive neuronal cell death. However, the mechanism(s) behind the virusinduced cell death is poorly understood. Using a library containing 77,406 sgRNAs targeting 20,121 genes, we performed a genome-wide screen followed by a second screen with a sub-library. Among the genes identified, seven genes, EMC2, EMC3, SEL1L, DERL2, UBE2G2, UBE2J1, and HRD1, stood out as having the strongest phenotype, whose knockout conferred strong protection against WNVinduced cell death with two different WNV strains and in three cell lines. Interestingly, knockout of these genes did not block WNV replication. Thus, these appear to be essential genes that link WNV replication to downstream cell death pathway(s). In addition, the fact that all of these genes belong to the ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD) pathway suggests that this might be the primary driver of WNV-induced cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-683
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


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