Resistance of mice to infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is genetically determined. Embryonic cells from susceptible BALB/c and resistant C57BL/6 mice were equally sensitive to infection with HSV-2 as judged by plaque area, plaquing efficiency, endpoint titration and virus yield. Cells from C57BL/6 mice showed a higher sensitivity than cells from BALB/c mice to the protective action of two preparations of α/β interferon against challenge with HSV-2. This was evident both from c.p.e. inhibition and yield reduction experiments. The difference in sensitivity was dependent on virus dose and was greatest (up to 50-fold) with low virus doses. An analysis of the genetics of the α/β interferon sensitivity in cells from embryos of parental mice and embryos derived from reciprocal matings between HSV-2-resistant and -susceptible mice suggested that interferon sensitivity is inherited as a co-dominant autosomal trait. The induction of the interferon-induced enzyme 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase was also different in cells from the two mouse strains, since significant levels were only detected in cells from C57BL/6 mice. It is suggested that differential interferon sensitivity of cells from HSV-2-resistant and -susceptible mice might be a factor of importance for the course of the infection.


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