The RNA bacteriophage µ2 was grown efficiently under controlled conditions in a 2 l. fermenter and labelled with [P]orthophosphate and [5-H] uridine. The RNA was extracted and digested completely with pancreatic ribonuclease and the resulting solution of oligonucleotides was fractionated by DEAE-cellulose chromatography in 7 -urea at pH 7.9. Eleven fractions were obtained which were shown to contain fragments with chain lengths 1, 2, …, 11 respectively. Fractions 10 and 11 were recovered in yields corresponding to one oligonucleotide in each fraction per original viral RNA molecule, and the nucleotide compositions of these oligonucleotides were measured. The distribution of purine nucleotide sequences that might reasonably occur by chance in an RNA molecule of finite length was calculated and compared with the observed distribution in µ2 viral RNA. The use of these procedures for identification and characterization of viruses was demonstrated.


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