Two modes of assembly of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) were observed in cultured mouse embryo fïbroblasts, generating two morphologically different types of viral particles: monocapsid virions and multicapsid virions. The assembly of nucleocapsids appeared to be the same for both types of morphogenesis. Three successive stages of intranuclear capsid formation could be distinguished: capsids with electron-lucent cores, coreless capsids, and capsids with dense cores. Some of the capsids were enveloped at the inner nuclear membrane to form monocapsid virions, which were first detectable in the perinuclear cisterna. Other capsids left the nucleus via nuclear pores and usually entered cytoplasmic capsid aggregates that received an envelope by budding into extended cytoplasmic vacuoles, thereby forming multicapsid virions. Since the formation of multicapsid virions is not restricted to cell culture conditions and also occurs in vivo in immunosuppressed mice, multicapsid virions may play a role in the pathogenesis of cytomegalovirus infection.

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