The intracellular uncoating site of influenza virus was studied by measuring the fluorescence intensity of probes conjugated to the virus or the isolated hemagglutinin and also by assaying virus replication under various incubation conditions. Acidification of the viral environment was monitored by the decrease in the fluorescence intensity of fluorescein isothiocynate, and transport of the virus particles into secondary lysosomes was assayed by the increase in the fluorescence intensity of fluorescein isothiocyanate diphosphate. The intracellular pH was estimated by the ratio of fluorescence intensities excited at two different wavelengths. It was found that the viral environment became acidified to a pH value of 5.1 to 5.2 within 10 min at 37°C or 1 h at 20°C after endocytosis. Addition of ammonium chloride to the medium rapidly raised the pH to 6.7. Transport of the virus particles into the secondary lysosomes was slower and negligibly low during those incubation periods. Virus replication occurred when the cells were incubated for 10 min at 37°C or for 1 h at 20°C, follwed by incubation in the presence of ammonium chloride for a total of 12 h. These results indicate the uncoating of influenza virus in endosomes before reaching the secondary lysosomes.
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