The simian myxovirus SV5 multiplies in a continuous line of baby hamster kidney (BHK21-F) cells causing extensive cell fusion, followed by cell death. After inoculation of 15 PFU/cell, the latent period was 7 hr, the doubling time approximately 60 min, and the yield 7 PFU per cell. Giant cell formation began about 6 hr after infection and rapidly progressed to the formation by 14 to 18 hr of a single syncytium which disintegrated by 24 to 36 hr. In contrast, SV5 multiplies in primary rhesus monkey kidney cells for long periods of time producing high yields of virus with little cytopathic effect.
High multiplicities of SV5 induced cell fusion in BHK21-F cells within 1 hr in the absence of virus multiplication but had no visible effect on monkey kidney cells.
Time-lapse photomicrography has demonstrated that giant cells form by fusion of infected cells, and that some polykaryocytes divide. During aberrant division of polykaryocytes giant nuclei are formed from the nuclear material of several parent nuclei.
The cytoplasmic development of viral antigens as demonstrated by immunofluorescence is similar in BHK21-F and monkey kidney cells. Synthesis of cellular DNA, RNA, and protein in monkey kidney cells is not shut off by SV5-infection, and in BHK21-F cells synthesis of these macromolecules is not inhibited until after extensive cell fusion has occurred 12 to 15 hr after infection. Persistently infected BHK21-F and monkey kidney cells have been serially carried through 11 and 28 cell passages, respectively.
The results suggest that whether SV5 acts as a moderate virus, as in monkey kidney cells, or a virulent virus, as in BHK21-F cells, depends on the response of the cell membrane to the virus.