Interferon (150 units/ml) was used to treat SC-1 and AKR-2B cells which were chronically infected with murine leukaemia virus (MuLV). This led to a 100-fold decrease in the amount of infectious virus released into the medium and a 10-fold decrease in the number of virus particles measured by the virion-associated reverse transcriptase assay. However, there was little change in the amount of cell-associated infectious virus, though nearly twice as many cell-associated virions were counted in electron micrographs. With both types of cells, interferon blocked MuLV replication at the post-budding stage, but it did not change the morphology of the particles produced or their content of virion 70S RNA.

Infectious virus assembled on the cell membranes of interferon-treated cells was less stable at 37°C than that grown in the absence of interferon. Release of infectious virus from interferon-treated cells was not inhibited by actinomycin D or cycloheximide, though both agents inhibited virus production in controls.

These results show that interferon inhibits MuLV replication through effects on virion assembly; these lead both to the formation of non-infectious particles and of fewer virions. Kinetic analysis further shows that interferon affects MuLV assembly rapidly and induction of an antiviral protein may not be required.


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