Two human lymphoblastoid B-cell lines, WI-L2 and 8866, were infected with the Edmonston strain of measles virus at a multiplicity of infection of 10(-6), and stable persistent infections were established. By immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, the vast majority of cells from both cell lines were expressing viral antigens and releasing virion-like particles. However, very little infectious virus could be detected at 37 degrees C, either by an infectious centers assay or by titration of supernates from persistently infected cultures. When cultures were shifted to 31 degrees C, the cells released a population of virus that was temperature-sensitive. Clonal analysis of supernatant virus at 31 degrees C revealed a highly heterogeneous population of temperature-sensitive mutants, differing in plating efficiency ratios, thermolability, and antigen production at the nonpermissive temperature. Factors such as interferon, defective interfering particles, and extracellular virus do not appear to be important in maintaining the persistent carrier state. These studies have important implications for persistent infections of lymphoid cells in vivo, and the slow neurological diseases associated with measles, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, and multiple sclerosis.

This content is only available as a PDF.