We have used four established lysosomotropic agents, ammonium chloride, amantadine, chloroquine, and methylamine, to monitor the possible interference with an early low-pH-dependent step during adenovirus replication. Two concentrations of each of the different agents were selected; one was essentially nontoxic to uninfected HeLa cells, and the other resulted in some toxicity as measured by trypan blue staining and by interference with cell monolayer establishment, cell proliferation, and radioisotope labelling. It was separately determined that these concentrations displayed pH-raising effects of the same magnitude as higher concentrations previously used in similar studies. Adenovirus uncoating in vivo, normally reaching its maximum within 1 h after infection, was not affected by any of the agents. The subsequent levels of successful nuclear entry events by the parental genomes were monitored by measuring the extent of transcription of an mRNA species coding for the early 72-kDa DNA-binding protein at 10 to 12 h postinfection. In HeLa, KB, HEp-2, and A549 cells, none of the agents were able to affect the levels of early transcription after administration at the point of infection or at 3 h after infection. The cumulative synthesis of the hexon antigen was assessed late in infection, and inhibitory effects were revealed upon administration of 10, 20, and 40 mM ammonium chloride, 10 mM methylamine, and 0.5 mM amantadine, irrespective of the time point of addition. Ammonium chloride at 5 mM reduced the hexon yield by 20% at the most when added within 50 min after infection. Chloroquine at concentrations of 2.5 and 5 microM specifically reduced the hexon yields by 30 to 40% when administered within the first 50 min of infection. On the basis of the lack of effects of nontoxic concentrations of the four agents on the early virus-cell interactive event of uncoating and the early virus-specified transcription, we conclude that a low-pH-dependent step early in the adenovirus replication cycle is not mandatory for a successful infection
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