Interferon inhibits the replication of simian virus 40 (SV40) in monkey cells and reduces markedly the formation of both early virus protein (i.e. SV40 T antigen) and early SV40 RNA. This suggests that in SV40 infection interferon acts primarily by inhibiting transcription. To test this conclusion further, we examined alternative mechanisms which might explain these results and made the following observations. (1) The quantity of input SV40 DNA in the nucleus 24 h post infection (p.i.) was the same in interferon-treated and control cells. Thus interferon does not appear to diminish the quantity of SV40 DNA template available for transcription. (2) Chemical inhibitors of protein synthesis did not mimic the selective inhibition of early SV40 RNA formation induced by interferon, indicating that the transcription of early SV40 RNA is not dependent upon the prior synthesis of any virus-induced protein. Thus a block in translation cannot readily explain the reduced formation of early SV40 RNA in interferon-treated cells. (3) Fractionation of SV40 infected cells after a one-hour labelling period showed that interferon produced a comparable reduction in the quantity of early SV40 RNA in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Thus the observed inhibition of early SV40 RNA is not due solely (if at all) to enhanced cytoplasmic degradation. These results indicate that the primary effect of interferon in SV40 infected monkey cells is either to inhibit the transcription of early virus RNA or to enhance its turnover in the nucleus.


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