STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF VIRAL NUCLEIC ACIDS
ARMY BIOLOGICAL LABS FREDERICK MD
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A summary is presented on achievements in the study of the chemistry of viral nucleic acids. Methods of differential centrifugation, ion-exchange chromatography, enzyme treatment and a number of other methods have made it possible to obtain purified suspensions of viruses which are suitable for nucleic acid isolation. Viral nucleic acids have a number of advantages over tissue. In viruses there is no diverse nature of nuclease, which makes it possible to obtain preparations of nucleic acid in a highly native state. Moreover, in the make-up of a chromosome there is only one molecule of DNA, the length of which may reach several millimeters and molecular weight - 10s of billions. The molecular weight of viral nucleic acids does not exceed 120--150 million, and it is possible to obtain a molecule of viral nucleic acid with the minimum amount of damages. The first successes in the study of the chemistry of viral nucleic acids were connected with bacteriophages. In them many qualitative deviations were detected in the composition of nucleic acids. Advancements have been made in studying the double and single helix structures of nucleic acids. Descriptions of these structures are given with various viruses as examples.