Persistent influenza C virus infection was readily initiated in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells at low m.o.i. and has been maintained for over 1 year. The persistently infected (p.i.) cultures were characterized by the following properties: virus infection was limited to a minority of cells, small amounts of infectious virus were produced together with low levels of interferon (IFN) and the cultures were resistant to superinfection by homologous virus and vesicular stomatitis virus, but not by influenza A and B viruses. These properties fluctuated cyclically with passage of the p.i. culture. When p.i. cultures were cured by cultivation in the presence of antiserum, the cultures lost their IFN-producing activity and became as susceptible to homologous virus as normal MDCK cell culture. The results suggest that persistent influenza C virus infection may be regulated by endogenously produced IFN. Under the condition of high m.o.i. a persistent influenza C virus infection could not be initiated in MDCK cells due to the development of cytopathic effects.


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