Results presented here show that when cytomegalovirus (strain Colburn)-infected cells are treated with the DNA synthesis inhibitor hydroxyurea or phosphonoformate, one type of intranuclear capsid accumulates. These particles appeared to contain symmetrically organized internal material, and had a protein composition and sedimentation rate characteristic of B capsids. Radiolabeling experiments provided evidence that a population of B capsids lacking DNA is present during the course of a normal infection. These capsids sedimented slightly slower than the peak of viral DNA in the same region of the gradient, and had a ratio of DNA/protein that was estimated to be sevenfold lower than that of the faster sedimenting C capsids. DNA in both the B and C capsid regions of such gradients was found to be relatively resistant to digestion with DNase. The possibility is considered that herpesvirus B capsids lacking DNA may be counterparts of unexpanded proheads in the bacteriophage assembly pathway.
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