Open Access
Issue
Vet. Res.
Volume 39, Number 6, November-December 2008
Number of page(s) 14
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/vetres:2008031
Published online 25 July 2008
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2008) 39:55
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2008) 39:55
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2008031

Involvement of proteases in porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus uncoating upon internalization in primary macrophages

Gerald M. Misinzo, Peter L. Delputte and Hans J. Nauwynck

Department of Virology, Parasitology and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium

Received 19 February 2008; accepted 22 July 2008; published online 25 July 2008

Abstract - Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) replicates in differentiated macrophages. In macrophages, heparan sulphate glycosaminoglycans mediate the initial PRRSV attachment and the receptor sialoadhesin mediates both PRRSV attachment and internalization into endosomes. Upon a pH drop, PRRSV is uncoated and its genome is released from the endosomes into the cytoplasm, which allows virus replication. However, expression of heparan sulphate and sialoadhesin in non-susceptible cells only allows virus internalization, but no virus uncoating and infection, indicating that other factors are involved. In the present study, it is shown that treatment of macrophages with serum (mainly the alpha-globulin fraction) inhibited PRRSV infection without affecting attachment and internalization. Because alpha-globulins contain several protease inhibitors, macrophages were treated with different protease inhibitors to investigate the involvement of proteases in PRRSV uncoating. Treatment of macrophages with broadly active inhibitors of serine or aspartic proteases, but not cysteine- or metallo-proteases, inhibited PRRSV uncoating and infection. Further investigation using specific inhibitors indicated that the aspartic protease cathepsin E is involved during PRRSV uncoating, but did not allow identification of the serine protease involved. The involvement of cathepsin E during PRRSV uncoating was confirmed by partial co-localization of internalized PRRSV with cathepsin E. Furthermore, cathepsin E expression increased with macrophage cultivation, which was positively correlated with an increased susceptibility to PRRSV infection. Together, these data show that, in macrophages, both the aspartic protease cathepsin E and an unidentified trypsin-like serine protease are involved in uncoating of internalized PRRSV and subsequent infection.


Key words: porcine arterivirus / macrophage / virus entry / protease / receptor

Corresponding author: peter.delputte@UGent.be

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008