The Spodoptera frugiperda Sf9 cell line is a heterogeneous population of rhabdovirus-infected and virus-negative cells: isolation and characterization of cell clones containing rhabdovirus X-gene variants and virus-negative cell clones.
The Sf9 cell line is broadly used for manufacturing baculovirus-expressed viral vaccines. We previously reported the presence of a novel, rhabdovirus in the Sf9 cell line, which contained a unique X gene (Sf-rhabdovirus; designated as X+ in this paper). These results were extended by other reports describing an Sf-rhabdovirus variant in Sf9 cells, which lacked 320 nucleotides encompassing the X-gene and adjacent intergenic region (designated as X- in this paper), and the development of an Sf-rhabdovirus negative cell line. Here, we report that the Sf9 cell line is a mixed-cell population, based upon isolation of cell clones with distinct phenotypes: Sf-rhabdovirus-negative, X+, and X-. We also show that Sf-rhabdovirus X+ and X- variants replicate independently in Sf-rhabdovirus-negative cells. These results shed light on the detection of different rhabdovirus variants by different laboratories using Sf9-derived cell clones and confirm that both X+ and X- viruses are infectious in rhabdovirus-negative Sf9 cells.