Nonstructural proteins nsp2TF and nsp2N of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) play important roles in suppressing host innate immune responses.

02 Mar 2018

Recently, we identified a unique -2/-1 ribosomal frameshift mechanism in PRRSV, which yields two truncated forms of nonstructural protein (nsp) 2 variants, nsp2TF and nsp2N. Here, in vitro expression of individual PRRSV nsp2TF and nsp2N demonstrated their ability to suppress cellular innate immune responses in transfected cells. Two recombinant viruses were further analyzed, in which either nsp2TF was C-terminally truncated (vKO1) or expression of both nsp2TF and nsp2N was knocked out (vKO2). Host cellular mRNA profiling showed that a panel of cellular immune genes, in particular those involved in innate immunity, was upregulated in cells infected with vKO1 and vKO2. Compared to the wild-type virus, vKO1 and vKO2 expedited the IFN-α response and increased NK cell cytotoxicity, and subsequently enhanced T cell immune responses in infected pigs. Our data strongly implicate nsp2TF/nsp2N in arteriviral immune evasion and demonstrate that nsp2TF/nsp2N-deficient PRRSV is less capable of counteracting host innate immune responses.