Potential Novel N-Glycosylation Patterns Associated with the Emergence of New Genetic Variants of PRRSV-2 in the U.S

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Glycosylation of proteins is a post-translational process where oligosaccharides are attached to proteins, potentially altering their folding, epitope availability, and immune recognition. In Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus-type 2 (PRRSV-2), positive selection pressure acts on amino acid sites potentially associated with immune escape through glycan shielding. Here, we describe the patterns of potential N-glycosylation sites over time and across different phylogenetic lineages of PRRSV-2 to better understand how these may contribute to patterns of coexistence and emergence of different lineages. We screened 19,179 PRRSV GP5 sequences (2004–2021) in silico for potential N-glycosylated sites. The emergence of novel combinations of N-glycosylated sites coincided with past PRRSV epidemics in the U.S. For lineage L1A, glycosylation at residues 32, 33, 44, 51, and 57 first appeared in 2012, but represented >62% of all L1A sequences by 2015, coinciding with the emergence of the L1A 1-7-4 strain that increased in prevalence from 8 to 86% of all L1A sequences from 2012 to 2015. The L1C 1-4-4 strain that emerged in 2020 also had a distinct N-glycosylation pattern (residues 32, 33, 44, and 51). From 2020 to 2021, this pattern was responsible for 44–47% of the L1C sequences, contrasting to <5% in years prior. Our findings support the hypothesis that antigenic evolution contributes to the sequential dominance of different PRRSV strains and that N-glycosylation patterns may partially account for antigenic differences amongst strains. Further studies on glycosylation and its effect on PRRSV GP5 folding are needed to further understand how glycosylation patterns shape PRRSV occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2021
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, by the joint NIFA-NSF-NIH-BBSRC Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease award 2019-67015-29918 and BB/T004401/1 and by the USDA NIFA Critical Agricultural Research and Extension program 2022-68008-37146.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • emergence
  • epidemiology
  • glycosylation
  • multi-strain dynamics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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