Isolation of highly fusogenic variants of simian virus 5 from persistently infected cells that produce and respond to interferon

DF Young, L Didcock, Richard Edward Randall

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A series of experiments were undertaken to examine how interferon and neutralizing antibodies influence the ability of simian virus 5 (SV5) (strain W3) to establish and maintain persistent infections in murine cells. In contrast to the rapid decline in SV5 protein synthesis observed in murine BALB/c fibroblasts (BF cells), which produce and respond to interferon, between 24 and 48 h postinfection there was no inhibition of virus protein synthesis in MSFI- cells, skin fibroblasts derived from alpha/beta-interferon receptor knockout BALB/c mice. Furthermore, the addition of anti-interferon antibodies to the culture medium of infected BF cells significantly reduced the observed decline in virus protein synthesis. Following infection of untreated BF cells, the majority replicated virus but survived the infection and eventually cleared the virus after 8 to 15 days. However, not all the cells were cured, and the cultures became persistently infected. Upon passage of persistently infected cultures, the virus fluxed between active and repressed states as a consequence of interferon production. This resulted in a balance being reached in which only 5 to 20% of the cells were infected at any one time. After 30 passages of the persistently infected tells, highly fusogenic virus variants arose (one of which was isolated and termed W3-f). W3-f remained as sensitive to interferon as the parental W3 isolate but, in the absence of interferon, spread much more rapidly than the parental W3 strain through BF cell monolayers. Sequence analysis revealed no deduced amino acid differences between the F proteins of W3 and W3-f. BF cell cultures persistently infected with W3-f were rapidly cleared of virus by the addition of virus-neutralizing antibodies to the culture medium. In contrast, neutralizing antibodies had little effect on the numbers of cells persistently infected with W3 over several passages. These results suggest that the ability of paramyxoviruses to cause cell-cell fusion may be selected for in vivo as a consequence of their adaptation to the interferon response rather than their need to escape from neutralizing antibodies. The significance of these observations with regard to persistent parainfluenza virus infections in vivo is further discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9333-42
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997




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