Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus strain OR2 was serially passaged on Vero cells to establish a persistent infection which was maintained for over 300 days. Supernatants from infected cells protected Vero cells from c.p.e. and caused up to a 95% reduction of wild-type virus yield. These protective and interfering effects suggest that defective interfering (DI) particles are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the MVE virus persistent infection. The persistently infected cell supernatant preparations shared several features with DI particle preparations from other viral systems, such as their amplification to detectable levels after two to four passages of virus. However, results from this study suggest that DI particles of MVE virus differ from other studied systems in that they are able to affect only moderately the yield of infectious wild-type virus. The genetic drift of the parental virus during the course of a long term persistent infection appears to be minimal.


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