Although virus-induced interferon formation has been studied for some 10 years, it has not been possible to establish whether the inducer is the viral nucleic acid, protein, or some other molecule. However, the available evidence suggests that it is the viral nucleic acid (1). If this is so, then its replication may be an essential part of the induction process when infective viruses are used in interferon production, and possibly also when non-infective viruses are used. The latter, inactivated under carefully controlled conditions, may still stimulate limited nucleic acid synthesis, insufficient for the formation of complete virus, but possibly sufficient to participate in the interferon induction process.

Viral RNA synthesis often represents too small a proportion of the total cellular RNA synthesis to be readily detected unless cellular RNA synthesis is depressed in some way. Actinomycin has been widely used for this purpose since it inhibits DNA-dependent RNA synthesis, but does not affect the RNA-directed synthesis of RNA involved in the replication of many RNA viruses.


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