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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976 Apr;73(4):1154-8.

Synthesis of murine leukemia virus proteins associated with virions assembled in actinomycin D-treated cells: evidence for persistence of viral messenger RNA.


Murine leukemia virus particles assembled in actinomycin D-treated cells were detected by determination of reverse transcriptase [RNA-dependent DNA polymerase (nucleotidyltransferase)] activity and by radioimmunoassay of the major virion protein, p30. The levels of enzyme activity and p30 protein were both 30-40% relative to the control over an 8 hr period, whereas after 3 or 4 hr infectivity was reduced by 95%. Thus, virions produced in the absence of RNA synthesis represent a fairly homogeneous population of defective particles. Although RNA synthesis is not necessary for virus assembly, protein synthesis is required. Treatment of cells with 10 mug/ml of cycloheximide reduced virus production by 80-85% within 2 hr, and by greater than 95% at later times. As might be expected from this finding, viral protein synthesis accompanies virus assembly in actinomycin D-treated cells. Newly synthesized proteins associated with the defective particles were identical with those found in standard virions and were present in the correct proportions. The results demonstrate that viral mRNA persists in cells in which RNA synthesis is blocked and continues to direct viral protein synthesis with a functional half-life of approximately 6-8 hr. Since viral mRNA is not packaged in virions even when viral RNA synthesis is shut off [Levin et al. (1974) J. Virol. 14, 152-161], we propose that murine leukemia virus-infected cells contain two nonequilibrating pools of intracellular viral RNA molecules, one associated with polyribosomes and one which is encapsidated into extracellular particles.

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