It is well known that cells differ significantly in their susceptibility to virus-induced fusion. Evidence from many reports indicates that in general cells from established cell lines are more susceptible to virus-induced fusion than are primary or secondary diploid cell strains (for review see Poste, 1970). The factors that determine these differences in cellular response are poorly understood. Although the process of cell fusion requires fusion of the plasma membranes of apposed cells, the effect of the composition of the plasma membrane on cell fusion capacity has received little attention. Klenk & Choppin (1969, 1970) found significant differences in the molar ratios of cholesterol to phospholipid in the plasma membranes of a range of cell types showing different susceptibilities to fusion induced by SV5 virus.


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