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J Virol. 1987 May;61(5):1318-24.

Lymphoid cells in the spleens of woodchuck hepatitis virus-infected woodchucks are a site of active viral replication.


Lymphoid cells were purified from the spleens of 15 woodchucks and examined for the presence of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV). Lymphoid cells from the spleens of eight of eight chronically infected animals contained high levels of WHV RNA and DNA. A 100-fold lower level of WHV DNA was found in the spleen from one of five animals that had recovered from acute WHV infections 2 years before this analysis. No WHV nucleic acids were observed in either of two uninfected animals. WHV DNA patterns in the lymphoid cells from the spleens of the chronically infected animals, which included the presence of single-stranded DNA and RNA-DNA hybrid molecules, were identical to those observed in WHV-infected liver. WHV DNA in these cells was present in intact, 27-nm core particles which also contained the endogenous DNA polymerase activity. These results indicate that the spleen is a site of active WHV DNA replication and is most likely a major source of WHV-infected cells in the circulating lymphoid cell population.

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