The DNA of red cowpox virus strain Brighton or its white pock variant was analysed by cleavage with restriction endonucleases dIII, 1, 1 or 1. Physical maps were constructed and the genomes compared with that of vaccinia virus strain DIE. The size of the red cowpox genome is 23 to 29 megadaltons greater than that of vaccinia and results from the presence of additional, near terminal sequences. An internal region of about 75 megadaltons appears to be highly conserved between the two viruses. The red cowpox genome contains near terminal, repetitive sequences which have some homology with those of vaccinia virus DNA. Rapid renaturation of red cowpox terminal restriction fragments indicates that these are covalently cross-linked.

Viable white pock variants arise continually and map as deletion mutants lacking similar sequences from one specific terminus only of the parental genome. The deletion represents 11 to 12% of the red cowpox DNA and includes the terminal repetition which therefore is not required for replication. The deleted terminus of the white pock variant genome does not appear to be cross-linked.


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