Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus structural protein E2 as a complement regulatory protein
Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a member of the genus Pestivirus, family Flaviviridae, and is one of the most widely distributed viruses in cattle worldwide. Approximately 60 % of cattle in endemic areas without control measures are infected with BVDV during their lifetime. This wide prevalence of BVDV in cattle populations results in significant economic losses. BVDV is capable of establishing persistent infections in its host due to its ability to infect fetuses, causing immune tolerance. However, this cannot explain how the virus evades the innate immune system. The objective of the present work was to test the potential activity of E2 as a complement regulatory protein. E2 glycoprotein, produced both in soluble and transmembrane forms in stable CHO-K1 cell lines, was able to reduce complement-mediated cell lysis up to 40 % and complement-mediated DNA fragmentation by 50 %, in comparison with cell lines not expressing the glycoprotein. This work provides the first evidence of E2 as a complement regulatory protein and, thus, the finding of a mechanism of immune evasion by BVDV. Furthermore, it is postulated that E2 acts as a self-associated molecular pattern (SAMP), enabling the virus to avoid being targeted by the immune system and to be recognized as self.