Capsid types present in hepatocyte nuclei of Syrian hamsters infected with the animal strain of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1H) were studied and characterized. Three capsid species were isolated: L capsids (ρ = 1.23 g/ml) which are devoid of a core structure and appear to be empty shells, I capsids (ρ = 1.24 g/ml) which contain an electron-lucent, cross-shaped, immature core, and H capsids (ρ = 1.25 g/ml) which contain an electron-dense, mature core structure. All three capsids first appeared at approx. 6 h post inoculation and were present in a ratio of approx. 10:87:3 (L:I:H) at all times during infection. Analysis of the polypeptide and amino acid compositions of certain species indicated that these capsids are identical to L, I and H capsids isolated from cell cultures infected with the culture tissue strain of EHV-1. These findings support the model (O'Callaghan & Randall, 1976) that I capsids are a major precursor of mature capsids and play a major role in the maturation of this herpesvirus.


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