Pre- and post-embedding immune electron microscopy techniques employing ferritin and large and small gold markers to detect cell surface and intracellular antigens respectively, have been combined in a study of influenza virus-infected cells. This has permitted, for the first time, the simultaneous detection of intracellular virus matrix protein (M), nucleoprotein (NP) and membrane haemagglutinin (HA). The technique facilitated an investigation of the possible physical interrelationship between these three proteins both in the infected cell, and on the infected cell membrane. Electron-dense bodies uniformly labelled by antibody to M protein were observed in the nucleus and cytoplasm. Similarly, NP was detected in both the nucleus and cytoplasm. Approximately 50% of the nuclear NP was located in close proximity to the M protein-containing dense bodies but mainly on the perimeter of the structures. A similar relationship of NP to the M-containing dense bodies was observed in the cytoplasm. M protein and NP were readily detected in sections of budding virions. Labelling of these proteins was also observed on the cytoplasmic face of the plasma membrane but the density of labelling only occasionally approached that of newly formed virions. These findings suggest that budding occurs very quickly after the internal proteins arrive at the plasma membrane. Double labelling experiments on the cell surface indicate that NP and HA behave as independent molecules and do not form tight complexes with each other.


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