Cleavage sites for the restriction endonucleases and were mapped on rabbit poxvirus and vaccinia virus DNA. These physical maps were used to analyse the structural variations between the two DNAs. Two specific heterologous regions, symmetrically arranged at each end of the genomes, have been identified. Region 1, representing the exterior part of the terminal repetition, appears to contain unrelated sequences in each DNA and accounts for the difference in length of the two genomes. Region 2, separated from region 1 by a conserved part of the terminal repetition, is located at the transition from repeated to unique DNA sequences. Its overall length of about 4 megadaltons is well conserved and it contains individual DNA-specific as well as conserved restriction sites. The major central part of the genomes (over 100 megadaltons) contains very few, widely dispersed restriction site variations.


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