A novel sheet-like virus particle array is a hallmark of Zika virus infection

Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging flavivirus that caused thousands of human infections in recent years. Compared to other human flaviviruses, ZIKV replication is not well understood. Using fluorescent, transmission electron, and focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy, we examined ZIKV replication dynamics in Vero 76 cells and in the brains of infected laboratory mice. We observed the progressive development of a perinuclear flaviviral replication factory both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, we illustrated the ZIKV lifecycle from particle cell entry to egress. ZIKV particles assembled and aggregated in an induced convoluted membrane structure and ZIKV strain-specific membranous vesicles. While most mature virus particles egressed via membrane budding, some particles also likely trafficked through late endosomes and egressed through membrane abscission. Interestingly, we consistently observed a novel sheet-like virus particle array consisting of a single layer of ZIKV particles. Our study further defines ZIKV replication and identifies a novel hallmark of ZIKV infection.