The synthesis of virus-specific polypeptides and messenger RNA in cell cultures persistently infected with an isolate of measles virus from a patient with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) has been compared to that found in a lytic infection with the homologous virus. The persistent infection described here was chosen as its biological characteristics reflect those of virus-infected brain cells from SSPE patients. The synthesis of H, N and possibly F protein was seen in both lytic and persistent infections, but the synthesis of M protein was only detected in the lytic infection. However, messenger RNA isolated from either the lytic or persistent infection directed the synthesis in a cell-free translation system of all structural polypeptides, including M, and also three non-structural polypeptides, with mol. wt. of 34000, 30000 and 18000. Messenger RNAs coding for the virus-specific polypeptides were also shown to be polyadenylated. In addition, those polypeptides made which were antigenically related to the haemagglutinin, demonstrated structural changes after passage through a persistent infection.


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