SUMMARY: Streptomycin is a specific antiviral agent for a variety of bacteriophages active against and since it inhibits bacteriophage growth even when the host is resistant to the antibiotic. An analysis of the mode of action of the antibiotic in this system reveals that it probably has two effects. If the antibiotic is present before adsorption, it inhibits injection of the phage DNA. This effect is readily reversible. If the antibiotic is added after adsorption, it appears that injection is not inhibited, but that the phage genome is inactivated. The antibiotic has no effect on replication of the phage once the genome has become established in the host cell. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the phage DNA exists transiently at a streptomycin-accessible site, and then moves to a site of replication which is inaccessible to the antibiotic. Streptomycin-resistant phages probably have a different injection mechanism from streptomycin-sensitive phages.

The senior author has reported similar findings for an RNA bacteriophage of The implications of this work for virus chemotherapy and for analysing the mode of penetration into the cell of virus nucleic acid are discussed.


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