Envelope protein requirements for the assembly of infectious virions of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus

E.H.J. Wissink, M.V. Kroese, H.A. van Wijk, F.A.M. Rijsewijk, J.J. Meulenberg, P.J.M. Rottier

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    Virions of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) contain six membrane proteins: the major proteins GP5 and M and the minor proteins GP2a, E, GP3, and GP4. Here, we studied the envelope protein requirements for PRRSV particle formation and infectivity using full-length cDNA clones in which the genes encoding the membrane proteins were disrupted by site-directed mutagenesis. By transfection of RNAs transcribed from these cDNAs into BHK-21 cells and analysis of the culture medium using ultracentrifugation, radioimmunoprecipitation, and real-time reverse transcription-PCR, we observed that the production of viral particles is dependent on both major envelope proteins; no particles were released when either the GP5 or the M protein was absent. In contrast, particle production was not dependent on the minor envelope proteins. Remarkably, in the absence of any one of the latter proteins, the incorporation of all other minor envelope proteins was affected, indicating that these proteins interact with each other and are assembled into virions as a multimeric complex. Independent evidence for such complexes was obtained by coexpression of the minor envelope proteins in BHK-21 cells using a Semliki Forest virus expression system. By analyzing the maturation of their N-linked oligosaccharides, we found that the glycoproteins were each retained in the endoplasmic reticulum unless expressed together, in which case they were collectively transported through the Golgi complex to the plasma membrane and were even detected in the extracellular medium. As the PRRSV particles lacking the minor envelope proteins are not infectious, we hypothesize that the virion surface structures formed by these proteins function in viral entry by mediating receptor binding and/or virus-cell fusion
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)12495-12506
    JournalJournal of Virology
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • equine-arteritis-virus
    • dehydrogenase-elevating virus
    • lelystad-virus
    • structural protein
    • membrane-fusion
    • alveolar macrophages
    • culture-medium
    • fever virus
    • glycoprotein
    • identification


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