Even when neutralized by saturating amounts of monoclonal IgG directed against the haemagglutinin, influenza virus attaches to cells with kinetics similar to those of infectious virus. It then enters those cells and is uncoated; its RNA becomes localized within the nucleus and its lipid envelope and associated proteins remain in the cytoplasm. In this report we show that despite the apparent normality of these early stages of virus-cell interaction, neutralized virus underwent no detectable primary transcription. In contrast, there was only a slight inhibition of transcription by neutralized virus which was insufficient to account for the loss in infectivity, despite using mRNA to measure the production of capped oligonucleotides or to prime the elongation step. To test whether the absence of primary transcription resulted from non-accessibility of the genome rather than an effect on the transcriptase complex itself, we examined the susceptibility to RNase of virion RNA after inoculation of cells with neutralized virus. Data clearly show that, unlike RNA of infectious virus, RNA of neutralized virus did not become sensitive to RNase and we conclude that neutralization of influenza virus by IgG results in failure of virus to undergo a secondary uncoating process which is necessary for the activity of the virion transcriptase complex. Finally we show that by treatment of virions with detergent it is possible to produce a core structure which is stable and has some of the properties expected of a structure resulting from primary uncoating.


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