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J Virol. 1979 Mar;29(3):949-56.

Messenger activity of virion RNA for avian leukosis viral envelope glycoprotein.


An intracellular assay for viral envelope glycoprotein (env) messenger was employed to analyze the RNA from virus particles of Rous-associated virus type 2. For this assay RNA was microinjected into cells infected by the env-deficient Bryan strain of Rous sarcoma virus [RSV(-) cells]. Only when the injected RNA could be translated by the recipient cells to produce viral envelope glycoprotein was the env deficiency of the RSV(-) cells complemented, enabling them to release focus-forming virus. RNA in a 21S size fraction from the Rous-associated virus particle promoted the release of numerous focus-forming virus from RSV(-) cells, whereas the major 35S virion RNA species was inactive. The env messenger activity sedimented as a sharp peak with high specific activity. RNase T1-generated fragments of virion 35S RNA were unable to promote the release of infectious virus from RSV(-) cells. Consequently, the active molecule was most likely to be env messenger which had been encapsulated by the virus particle from the cytoplasm of infected cells. Approximately 95% of the env messenger within the virion was associated with the virion high-molecular-weight RNA complex. The temperature required to dissociate env messenger from the high-molecular-weight complex was indistinguishable from the temperature required to disrupt the complex itself. Virion high-molecular-weight RNA that was associated with env messenger sedimented slightly more rapidly than the bulk virion RNA; this was the strongest evidence that the 21S messenger had been encapsulated directly from the infected cells. These data are considered along with a related observation [concerning the prolonged expression of env messenger after injection into RSV(-) cells] to raise the possibility that virus-encapsulated env messenger can become expressed within subsequently infected cells.

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