Defective translation of measles virus matrix protein in a subacute sclerosing panencephalitis cell line

Nature. 1983 Sep 8-14;305(5930):153-5. doi: 10.1038/305153a0.


Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a slowly progressing fatal human disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that is associated with measles virus persistence. Virus nucleocapsids are present in the brain and the patient is in a state of hyperimmunization towards this agent. However, although all other structural polypeptides are recognized by the immune system, there is a markedly decreased antibody response towards virus matrix or membrane protein. Matrix protein has not been detected in brain cells and infectious virus is not present. The absence of this virus structural polypeptide is thought to account for the apparent restriction in virus maturation both in vivo and in vitro. SSPE viruses can only rarely be rescued from brain tissue by co-cultivation or cell fusion techniques using tissue culture cell lines susceptible to measles virus infection. Often this procedure fails to yield a lytic budding virus but produces instead a carrier cell line in which the agent is cell associated. These lines (known as SSPE cell lines) also do not contain matrix protein. However, the reason for this deficiency is unknown. We have therefore now examined an SSPE cell line which does not yield infectious virus in order to define this process further. We found that although messenger RNA for membrane protein was present, it was unable to form normal matrix protein in translation reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Measles virus / genetics*
  • Measles virus / growth & development
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis / microbiology*
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Viral Proteins