The morphogenesis of nuclear inclusions and virus capsids in human embryonic lung cells infected with mutants of human cytomegalovirus at permissive (34 °C) and non-permissive (39 °C) temperatures was studied by indirect immunofluorescence (IF) and electron microscopic analyses and compared with the morphogenesis of these structures in wild-type virus infection with or without phosphonoacetate. Mutants tested belonged to five different complementation groups: two groups were DNA (those unable to synthesize virus DNA at 39 °C) and the others were DNA. Based on the previous finding that the electron-dense, reticular nuclear inclusions (EM-NI) observed by the thin-section analysis correspond with nuclear inclusions (IF-NI) detected by the indirect IF staining (i.e. they occupy the same space in the nucleus), the following conclusions were obtained in mutant infection at 39 °C: (i) the formation of EM-NI, IF-NI and virus capsids requires replication of virus DNA. (ii) The formation of EM-NI is not necessarily accompanied by the formation of IF-NI; EM-NI itself is not IF-positive unless it acquires virus-specific late antigens. (iii) The assembly of virus capsids occurs only in those cells in which EM-NI is formed; however, it can occur without the formation of IF-NI. (iv) Virus capsids assembled are not the major antigens responsible for the fluorescence of nuclear inclusions.


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