Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Virology 424 (2012) 18–32


© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) glycoprotein 4 (GP4) resembles a typical type I membrane protein in its structure but lacks a hydrophilic tail at the C-terminus, suggesting that GP4 may be a lipid-anchored membrane protein. Using the human decay-accelerating factor (DAF; CD55), a known glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) lipid-anchored protein, chimeric constructs were made to substitute the GPI-anchor domain of DAF with the putative lipid-anchor domain of GP4, and their membrane association and lipase cleavage were determined in cells. The DAF-GP4 fusion protein was transported to the plasma membrane and was cleaved by phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), indicating that the C-terminal domain of GP4 functions as a GPI anchor. Mutational studies for residues adjacent to the GPI modification site and characterization of respective mutant viruses generated from infectious cDNA clones show that the ability of GP4 for membrane association corresponded to virus viability and growth characteristics. The residues T158 (ω−2, where ω is the GPI moiety at E160), P159 (ω−1), and M162 (ω+2) of GP4 were determined to be important for virus replication, with M162 being of particular importance for virus infectivity. The complete removal of the peptide–anchor domain in GP4 resulted in a complete loss of virus infectivity. The depletion of cholesterol from the plasma membrane of cells reduced the virus production, suggesting a role of lipid rafts in PRRSV infection. Remarkably, GP4 was found to colocalize with CD163 in the lipid rafts on the plasma membrane. Since CD163 has been reported as a cellular receptor for PRRSV and GP4 has been shown to interact with this receptor, our data implicates an important role of lipid rafts during entry of the virus.