Persistently infected cultures have been established from Vero cells surviving primary infection with Tacaribe virus (Vero-T). The growth rate and morphological characteristics of the persistently infected cells were indistinguishable from normal Vero cells. Virus release declined during the first 6 passages, a cyclical pattern was observed between passages 6 and 16, and subsequently no virus infectivity could be detected. Co-cultivation with normal RK-13 or Vero cells enhanced virus yield from virus-producing cultures of Vero-T cells (passage 15), but the addition of susceptible cells had no effect on non-producer Vero-T cultures (passage 19). Only a small proportion (<1%) of the persistently infected cells tested during the first 16 passages produced infectious virus. The virus released during the early stages of persistence was temperature-sensitive if grown at 40 °C, more thermolabile at 50 °C than parental virus, and unable to initiate a persistent infection in Vero cells. Vero-T cells consistently showed refractoriness to homotypic Tacaribe virus superinfection and a selective graded resistance to other arenavirus replication. The possible use of viral susceptibility of persistently infected cultures as marker of antigenic relationship among Tacaribe complex viruses is considered.


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