Low doses of u.v. radiation rapidly inactivate poliovirus, and the virus is progressively converted into dense particles (DPs) of buoyant density 1.44 g/ml in CsCl. The DPs are structurally and antigenically related to standard virus (N-antigen), i.e. they are indistinguishable from virus in their RNA and protein content and in their sedimentation properties. Furthermore, there is no difference in reactivity of the structural proteins of virus and DPs with the monofunctional reagent [H]-succinimidyl propionate (H-NSP). However, DPs differ from virus in that their capsids are permeable to several ions, and they can be degraded by RNase and protease. Increasing the radiation dose causes a successive transformation of DPs into 105S slow-sedimenting particles (SSPs). The SSPs are antigenically related to 76S artificial empty capsids (AECs) or H-antigen, but they differ physically and structurally from them. The SSPs have a higher S value than AECs and contain all the capsid proteins, including VP4, and the RNA, both of these macromolecules being absent from AECs. It is concluded, therefore, that transformation from N- to H-antigenicity by u.v. radiation does not require release of RNA and VP4. Conversion of virus particles to SSPs correlates with altered reactivity of VP2 and to a lesser extent VP1 and VP3, with the monofunctional reagent H-NSP.


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