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GP5 and M, the major membrane proteins of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), are the driving force for virus budding and a target for antibodies. We studied co-translational processing of GP5 from an European PRRSV-1 strain. Using mass spectrometry, we show that in virus particles of a Lelystad variant, the signal peptide of GP5 was absent due to cleavage between glycine-34 and asparagine-35. This cleavage site removes an epitope for a neutralizing monoclonal antibody, but leaves intact another epitope recognized by neutralizing pig sera. Upon ectopic expression of this GP5 in cells, signal peptide cleavage was however inefficient. Complete cleavage occurred when cysteine-24 was changed to proline or an unused glycosylation site involving asparagine-35 was mutated. Insertion of proline at position 24 also caused carbohydrate attachment to asparagine-35. Glycosylation sites introduced downstream of residue 35 were used, but did not inhibit signal peptide processing. Co-expression of the M protein rescued this processing defect in GP5, suggesting a novel function of M towards GP5. We speculate that a complex interplay of the co-translational modifications of GP5 affect the N-terminal structure of the mature proteins and hence its antigenicity.