Purified vaccinia virus was irradiated by γ-rays under direct-effect conditions. The ability of the irradiated samples to form plaques (infectivity) and to induce viral DNA synthesis was determined. The radiosensitive volume of the viral unit causing infection (1.9 × 10 cm.) is very small compared with the volume of the whole viral DNA (∼ 10%).

The inactivation of the DNA replication function follows a simple exponential law. The radiosensitive volume necessary for the replication of DNA (1.6 × 10 cm.) represents only 8.5% of the DNA necessary for infectivity and 0.85% of the total viral DNA. This indicates existence of a dissociation between two functions of vaccinia virus, the synthesis of viral DNA and infectivity.


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