Exposure of the scrapie agent to u.v. light at various wavelengths has shown that light of 237 nm is 4 to 5 times as effective in inactivating it as ‘germicidal’ wavelengths (250 to 270 nm); whereas with systems that depend on RNA or DNA for function, inactivation is most effective by wavelengths in the germicidal range and there is a minimum of response in the wavelength region round 240 nm. The action spectrum for the scrapie agent is reminiscent of the absorption spectrum for purified bacterial endotoxin, identified as a lipopolysaccharide complex.

Dilute aqueous suspensions of scrapie agent were exposed to ionizing radiations in the presence or absence of oxygen. In dilute suspensions of test systems depending on the integrity of nucleic acid or protein, oxygen is almost invariably protective, but it was extremely sensitizing for inactivation of the scrapie agent, to an extent approached only in the case of membranous systems like lysosomes.

Results of these two methods argue against dependence of the scrapie agent on an intrinsic nucleic acid moiety for ability to replicate. They suggest that a lipid fraction is an important component and to that extent provide additional support for the ‘membrane hypothesis’.


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