- Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis is a slowly progressing fatal human disease of the central nervous system which is a delayed sequel of measles virus (MV) infection. A typical pathological feature of this disease is the presence of viral ribonucleocapsid structures in the form of inclusion bodies and the absence of infectious virus or budding viral particles. The mechanisms governing the establishment and maintenance of a persistent MV infection in brain cells are still largely unknown. To understand the mechanisms underlying MV persistence in neuronal cells, a tissue culture model was studied. Clone NS20Y/MS of the murine neuroblastoma C1300 persistently infected with the wild-type Edmonston strain of MV secretes relatively high levels of alpha/beta interferon (IFN). As shown previously, treatment of the persistently infected cultures with anti-IFN serum converted the persistent state into a productive infection indicated by the appearance of multinucleated giant cells. In this study, we have investigated whether alpha/beta IFN produced by NS20Y/MS cells activates cellular protein tyrosine kinases which will induce tyrosine phosphorylating activity specific to virus-infected cells. We present data to show augmented protein tyrosine kinase activity in the persistently infected cells. We demonstrate that the MV N protein is phosphorylated on tyrosine in addition to serine and threonine in the persistent state but not in NS20Y cells acutely infected with MV.