Replicative intermediate (RI), replicative form (RF) and single-stranded (SS) RNA have been isolated from BHK cells infected with a bovine enterovirus by salt precipitation and gel filtration techniques. Kinetic experiments showed that at no time up to 16 h post-infection (p.i.) did the amount of RF exceed that of RI or SS RNA.

Electrophoresis of RF on 1.5% polyacrylamide-agarose gels showed that at least three species of double-stranded RNA were present, one of which was associated with an accessible poly(A)-containing tract. All of the RF was denatured by 99% dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO), although reannealling occurred rapidly when samples were returned to aqueous conditions. No evidence for circular structures in the RF molecular population was found by use of caesium sulphate density gradients containing ethidium bromide.

Treatment of RI with ribonuclease produced double-stranded RNA molecules, some of which were smaller in size than intact RF. Denaturation with DMSO and analysis on 99% DMSO sucrose gradients showed that the RI did not contain single strands of greater length than virion RNA. A portion of the RI bound to poly(U)-Sepharose 4B columns. The poly(A) tracts involved were present only in the nascent RNA strands with greatest sedimentation coefficients (30 to 35S).

Bovine enterovirus induced SS RNA was heterogeneous with regard to both sedimentation through sucrose gradients and mobility on acrylamide gels compared to purified virion RNA. The reason for this difference has never been satisfactorily resolved. Sedimentation through 99% DMSO-sucrose gradients showed that the heterogeneity was due to aggregation rather than any variation in chain length or conformational differences.

Our results support the single-stranded template model rather than a circular model for picornavirus RNA replication.


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