Our experiments on the stepwise degradation of vesicular stomatitis virus into well characterized structural components have enabled us to relate some of the biological properties of the virus to certain of its structural units (Cartwright, Smale & Brown, 1969, 1970). For example, incubating the virus with trypsin produces a bullet-shaped structure similar to the virus except that it no longer possesses the surface projections. Unlike the virus, the projection-free component has low infectivity and does not produce neutralizing antibodies when inoculated into guinea-pigs, thus providing decisive evidence that the immunizing activity of the virus is associated with the surface projections.

By treating the virus with Tween + ether or Nonidet P40 or sodium deoxycholate (Brown, Cartwright & Smale, 1967; Cartwright 1970), the immunizing antigen can be released in a biologically active form, sedimenting at about 6s. An infective skeleton-like structure with the same size and shape as the virus is also produced by treating the virus with Tween + ether or with Nonidet.


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