All herpes simplex virus (HSV) infected cell-specific polypeptides (ICSPs) were synthesized in the presence of lithium at a concentration (60 m) inhibitory to the production of infectious virus. Yields of certain ICSPs were increased and others, in particular glycoprotein C, decreased. HSV DNA synthesis was completely inhibited; synthesis and activities of HSV DNA polymerase and thymidine kinase were decreased but to a degree insufficient to account for the complete inhibition of HSV DNA synthesis. HSV DNA synthesis was inhibited to an equivalent degree by either incubation with 60 m-lithium or by potassium starvation; both procedures decreased intracellular potassium by an equivalent amount as adjudged by X-ray microanalysis. We conclude that lithium inhibits HSV DNA synthesis by displacement of potassium from a potassium-dependent biochemical reaction or by other physiological changes brought about by the loss of cellular potassium. The possibility that lithium also directly inhibits a virus replicative event cannot be excluded.


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