Preparations of bacterial transfer RNA (tRNA), give dose-dependent protection of mice against encephalomyocarditis (EMC) virus infection at up to 1 mg tRNA per mouse with maximum response when the tRNA is administered around 6 h before infection. Protection occurs with intraperitoneally and intravenously administered tRNA against infections by both these routes. In some experiments significant protection occurs by single treatments of tRNA up to 24 h after infection with virus doses of 1 × LD. Some tRNA preparations of eukaryotic origin do not give significant protection. Protection is not a feature of all species of bacterial tRNA; partially purified valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine tRNAs from are not protective. tRNA treatment does not induce circulating interferon nor does it ‘hypo-reactivate’ the protective effect of poly (I). poly (C) treatment of mice. Humoral and cell mediated immune responses do not seem to be involved in tRNA mediated protection since first, cytosine arabinoside treatment does not affect protection by tRNA; second, serum from mice treated with tRNA and an EMC vaccine does not protect other mice against infection, and third, mice that survive normally lethal infections as a result of tRNA treatment are generally just as susceptible to re-infection as previously untreated, uninfected mice. Silica treatment abolishes protection of mice by tRNA implying that macrophages are necessary. However, tRNA does not seem to act by clearance of virus particles since vaccination of mice by inactivated EMC virus is not affected by tRNA treatment. These results are considered in relation to the presence of a tRNA-like structure in EMC virus RNA and protection of mice by other single stranded polynucleotides.


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