The maturation of feline syncytium-forming virus (FSFV), a member of the foamy virus sub-family (Spumavirinae), has been studied by electron microscopy of thin sections of infected feline embryo (FEA) cells. The initial event observed was formation of crescent-shaped nucleoids at the plasma membrane. As budding progressed, the nucleoid became circular in outline with an electron-lucent centre in fully mature extracellular particles. These observations suggested that the maturation of FSFV in fully permissive FEA cells resembled that of C-type RNA tumour viruses, rather than the B-type mouse mammary tumour virus. In this respect FSFV may be distinct from other foamy viruses. However, like other foamy viruses FSFV possessed reverse transcriptase activity. Polymerase activity co-sedimented with infectivity in an equilibrium density gradient and exhibited a preference for poly(rA).oligo(dT) over poly(dA).oligo(dT) as exogenous template.


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