Experiments are presented in which the plaque assay technique was used to study the intracellular appearance and release of Western equine encephalomyelitis virus in suspensions of infected chick embryo fibroblasts.
No intracellular virus could be found during the 1st hour after adsorption in spite of the fact that more than 1014 cells per ml. proved to be infected. This is taken to indicate that the infecting particle loses its infectivity upon entering a susceptible cell.
The first progeny virus was detectable in the cells between 1 and 2 hours after infection, and it increased in amount exponentially during the following 3 hours. The released virus as measured in the supernatant fluid increased at the same rate as the intracellular virus but exceeded it in amount by a factor of about twenty at all times during the period of exponential increase. More than 100 particles were spontaneously released from each cell, by the end of the period of exponential increase, yet the maximum number of intracellular infective particles at any instant during this period was never more than an average of from 4 to 10 per cell. Calculations based on these findings indicate that, on the average, a virus particle is released from the cell within 1 minute after it gains the property of infectiousness.