Pigs infected with porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus (PRRSV) strain VR-2332 were found to generate high levels of antibodies (Abs) that bound in an indirect ELISA to synthetic peptides representing segments of the primary envelope glycoprotein (GP5) ectodomain of this virus. Use of overlapping GP5 ectodomain peptides of various length indicated that the epitope recognized by the Abs was located in the middle of the ectodomain (amino acids 36-52), in the same relative segment that contains the single linear neutralization epitope of the closely related mouse arterivirus, lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus (LDV). The VR-2332 GP5 segment exhibits 77% amino acid homology with the corresponding GP5 ectodomain segments of both the European PRRSV strain Lelystad virus (LV) and LDV. This explains some observed crossreaction between the pigAbs and neutralizing anti-LDV monoclonalAbs with peptides representing the GP5 ectodomains of VR-2332, LV and LDV. The GP5 binding Abs of pigs seem to be the primary PRRSV neutralizing Abs, since the well timed appearance in sera of all VR-2332 infected pigs of GP5 peptide binding Abs correlated 100% with the appearance of neutralizing Abs and earlier studies indicated that GP5 of PRRSV, like that of other arteriviruses, contains the main neutralization epitope of PRRSV. In addition, one neutralizing anti-LDV monoclonal Ab that is specific for the GP5 ectodomain epitope of LDV also strongly neutralized both PRRSV strains, VR-2332 and LV. The PRRSV GP5 epitope is associated with an N-glycan that is conserved in both PRRSV genotypes and all LDV isolates. This N-glycan may impede the humoral immune control of PRRSV in infected pigs and might be responsible for the low immunogenicity of PRRSV when injected into mice.
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