Herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA molecules were isolated from infected BSC 1 cells and centrifuged in CsCl-ethidium bromide density gradients. Both newly labelled and mature virus DNA molecules were found to have a linear conformation. The morphology of virus DNA molecules at different stages of the virus growth cycle in BSC 1 cells, was studied by electron microscopy after separation of virus DNA from cellular DNA by centrifugation in CsCl gradients. In each sample, about 200 virus DNA molecules were photographed and the different morphological forms were studied. Four classes of virus DNA molecules were observed: () mature linear DNA molecules, 52.4 ± 3.3 µm in length, () DNA molecules that contain a replicative loop or are Y-shaped, resembling replicative intermediates, () virus DNA molecules having one or more single-stranded filaments attached to them and () molecules with collapsed regions or with branches. A few circular molecules as well as linear DNA molecules longer than unit length were also observed. The virus DNA molecules resembling replicative intermediates gradually increased in number and reached a maximal amount of about 5% of the virus DNA population at 12 h after infection. The other forms of virus DNA were found to persist after the number of replicating DNA molecules decreased.


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