Molecular and host range properties of the virulent L10 strain of Semliki Forest virus were compared to those of the avirulent A7 strain. No difference could be detected between the two strains in adsorption, nucleocapsid synthesis, protein synthesis, ratio of 42S:26S RNA, particle infectivity, interferon induction and susceptibility, or defective interfering particle production. A7 showed lower total RNA synthesis than L10 in BHK, G26-24 (oligodendroglioma) and C1300 (neuroblastoma) cells. Cytopathogenicity of A7 was reduced compared to L10 in C1300 cells but not in G26-24 cells. It is concluded that the avirulent A7 strain has similar host range and molecular properties to the neurovirulence mutants M9 and M136, and that demyelination may be produced by a similar mechanism.


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