We have isolated and characterized the RNA of intracellular virus nucleocapsids recovered from a number of cell cultures persistently infected with rabies virus or vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). VSV persistent infections in BHK21, L cells and (mosquito) cells generally showed the presence of large amounts of defective-interfering (DI) nucleocapsid RNA and much smaller amounts of standard (B) nucleocapsid RNA. Persistent infections of BHK21 cells by two rabies virus strains, challenge virus standard (CVS-11) or HEP-Flury, were followed for several months during which time the ratio of DI to B nucleocapsid RNA cycled dramatically. We also observed coordinated fluctuations in the absolute amount of incorporation of [H]uridine into virus nucleocapsid RNA. Total incorporation was generally highest following a decrease in the relative amount of DI nucleocapsid RNA synthesis. At no time were DI nucleocapsids absent in any of the persistently infected cultures.


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