The PRRSV replicase: Exploring the multifunctionality of an intriguing set of nonstructural proteins

Ying Fang, Eric J. Snijder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Our knowledge about the structure and function of the nonstructural proteins (nsps) encoded by the arterivirus replicase gene has advanced in recent years. The continued characterization of the nsps of the arterivirus prototype equine arteritis virus has not only corroborated several important functional predictions, but also revealed various novel features of arteriviral replication. For porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), based on bioinformatics predictions and experimental studies, a processing map for the pp1a and pp1ab replicase polyproteins has been developed. Crystal structures have been resolved for two of the PRRSV nonstructural proteins that possess proteinase activity (nsp1α and nsp4). The functional characterization of the key enzymes for arterivirus RNA synthesis, the nsp9 RNA polymerase and nsp10 helicase, has been initiated. In addition, progress has been made on nsp functions relating to the regulation of subgenomic mRNAs synthesis (nsp1), the induction of replication-associated membrane rearrangements (nsp2 and nsp3), and an intriguing replicative endoribonuclease (nsp11) for which the natural substrate remains to be identified. The role of nsps in viral pathogenesis and host immunity is also being explored, and specific nsps (including nsp1α/β, nsp2, nsp4, nsp7, and nsp11) have been implicated in the modulation of host immune responses to PRRSV infection. The nsp3-8 region was identified as containing major virulence factors, although mechanistic information is scarce. The biological significance of PRRSV nsps in virus-host interactions and the technical advancements in engineering the PRRSV genome by reverse genetics are also reflected in recent developments in the area of vaccines and diagnostic assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnostic assays
  • Nonstructural proteins
  • RNA synthesis
  • Vaccines
  • Viral enzymes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cancer Research


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