Persistent infection of murine neuroblastoma cells with a relatively non-cytopathic virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), significantly lowered the cells' concentrations of choline acetyl transferase (CAT) and acetylcholine esterase (ACHE), enzymes which make or degrade acetylcholine. Quantities of acetylcholine enzymes remained depressed during the observation period of more than two years. This cellular luxury function was turned off without observable alterations in the cells' vital functions – growth rates, protein and RNA synthesis. Cloning experiments showed that CAT and ACHE levels were altered in the majority of LCMV infected neuroblastoma cells in culture and not limited to a specific subpopulation. Cells persistently infected with virus also contained receptors for neurotoxin A and α bungarotoxin. Six months after becoming infected, neuroblastoma cells having significant alterations in luxury functions stopped making infectious virus. Instead these cells now produced a defective interfering virus component.

Similar events to those seen in vitro with neuroblastoma cells also occurred in vivo. Mice inoculated with LCMV at birth carried high titers of LCMV in brain tissues and viral antigens in neuronal cells as adults. Some of these mice also showed significant alterations in their ability to make and degrade acetylcholine when compared to age and sex matched controls.