The range of hepatitis A virus (HAV) particles generated during persistent infection of different cell lines was studied. Buoyant density and sedimentation analyses of cell extracts revealed a uniform profile of particles in all cell lines analysed except for BS-C-1 cells. The virion itself usually represented less than 50% of the total mass of virus antigen. A major portion of the antigen was associated with non-infectious, empty particles, which banded at 1.305 g/ml and 1.20 g/ml CsCl, and sedimented in sucrose gradients at 76S and 59S. Empty HAV particles were similar to those of poliovirus with respect to their physical stability and had the characteristic capsid protein content (VP0, VP1 and VP3). An additional RNA-containing particle, probably the provirion, represented only a minor species characterized by a buoyant density of 1.32 g/ml in CsCl and sedimenting at 130S.


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