Tacaribe virus stocks were prepared which induced definite lytic responses in Vero cells infected at multiplicities giving synchronous infection. Under these conditions, the first signs of cytopathic effect (c.p.e.) appeared at about 30 h post-infection and cell lysis occurred after 40 h. Before the onset of cytopathic changes, the virus induced inhibition of host cell protein, DNA and RNA (primarily rRNA) synthesis. These were designated c.p.e. (+) virus stocks. The effect of virus on host cell macromolecular synthesis and development of c.p.e. were not related to the virus isolate, but to the conditions under which the virus was produced. Thus, from a single virus clone, working stocks were derived which could or could not induce inhibition of host cell functions and c.p.e. development. The virus stocks that did not induce inhibition are defined as c.p.e. (-). Analysis of [H]leucine-labelled proteins from Vero cells infected with either the c.p.e. (+) or the c.p.e. (-) virus stocks revealed synthesis of two virus-specific polypeptides migrating with mobilities corresponding to mol. wt. 68000 and 79000. Thse are presumed to correspond, respectively, to the nucleoprotein and to the minor polypeptide p79. In cells infected with the c.p.e. (+) virus stock, the virus-specific polypeptides were synthesized at times when there was a drastic inhibition of host cell protein synthesis. The yield of infectious progeny during the first 24 h of infection is similar in Vero cells infected with either the c.p.e. (+) or the c.p.e. (-) virus stocks. The proportion of defective interfering particles was much higher in the c.p.e. (-) than in the c.p.e. (+) virus stocks. The results presented here are the first demonstration that an arenavirus affects the biosynthetic machinery of the host cell.


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