Several vaccinia virus early proteins (encoded by genes B1R, H5R and I3L) synthesized in the presence of an inhibitor of DNA synthesis localize, at least in part, to punctate inclusions that are visible by immunofluorescence in the cytoplasm of poxvirus-infected cells. It is shown that these inclusions contain DNA (visualized by DAPI staining of the infected cells) and that the number of inclusions is proportional to the amount of input virus. Their mean diameter (about 680 nm) was larger than that of purified vaccinia virus particles. When the inhibition of DNA synthesis was reversed, incorporation of BrdU into the B1R particles was demonstrated after labelling for 30 min, suggesting that these cytoplasmic focal sites correspond to viral DNA replication complexes that have initiated normally but are inhibited at the step of DNA chain elongation. These experiments suggest strongly that these inclusions are the precursors of the virosomes.


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