The entry of fowl plague virus, and avian influenza A virus, into Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells was examined both biochemically and morphologically. At low multiplicity and 0 degrees C, viruses bound to the cell surface but were not internalized. Binding was not greatly dependent on the pH of the medium and reached an equilibrium level in 60-90 min. Over 90% of the bound viruses were removed by neuraminidase but not by proteases. When cells with prebound virus were warmed to 37 degrees C, part of the virus became resistant to removal b neuraminidase, with a half-time of 10-15 min. After a brief lag period, degraded viral material was released into the medium. The neuraminidase-resistant virus was capable of infecting the cells and probably did so by an intracellular route, since ammonium chloride, a lysosomotropic agent, blocked both the infection and the degradation of viral protein. When the entry process was observed by electron microscopy, viruses were seen bound primarily to microvilli on the cell surface at 0 degrees C and, after warming at 37 degrees C, were endocytosed in coated pits, coated vesicles, and large smooth-surfaced vacuoles. Viruses were also present in smooth-surfaced invaginations and small smooth-surfaced vesicles at both temperatures. At physiological pH, no fusion of the virus with the plasma membrane was observed. When prebound virus was incubated at a pH of 5.5 or below for 1 min at 37 degrees C, fusion was, however, detected by ferritin immunolabeling. t low multiplicity, 90% of the prebound virus became neuraminidase-resistant and was presumably fused after only 30 s at low pH. These experiments suggest that fowl plague virus enters MDCK cells by endocytosis in coated pits and coated vesicles and is transported to the lysosome where the low pH initiates a fusion reaction ultimately resulting in the transfer of the genome into the cytoplasm. The entry pathway of fowl plague virus thus resembles tht earlier described for Semliki Forest virus.

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