Physicochemical and immunological techniques have been used in an attempt to characterize a filterable agent, separated from the intestines of mice raised under ordinary conditions of husbandry, which produces a lasting depression of weight in specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice when administered to them orally shortly after birth. Although this agent has not yet been identified, it will be tentatively designated here as enterovirus.
The mouse enterovirus can be readily sedimented by ultracentrifugation and by precipitation at pH 4.3; it does not pass through cellophane membranes. Its infective power is completely destroyed by ultraviolet radiation, but is resistant to heating at 56°C, exposure to ether, treatment with trypsin, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease.
Dialysis and treatment with ether and nucleases greatly increase the infective activity of the intestinal filtrates containing the enterovirus, a finding which suggests that these procedures eliminate or destroy some inhibitory substance(s).
The mouse enterovirus causes hemagglutination of mouse red blood cells. When injected into rabbits, it elicits in them an immune response that renders their serum capable of neutralizing its weight-depressing activity. As measured by inhibition of hemagglutination or complement fixation, the sera of infected mice do not exhibit any significant activity against usual mouse viruses.
Centrifugation of the mouse enterovirus in 50%–20% sucrose gradient gave almost complete recovery of the infectivity and of hemagglutinating activity in the same fraction. In contrast, the protein content of the material was distributed through the various fractions. Consequently, this procedure resulted in a marked increase of specific activity.