Action of Chemical and Physical Agents on Viruses

  • Claude A. Knight
Part of the Springer Study Edition book series (SSE)


The reaction of viruses with chemical and physical agents seemed rather complex and mysterious some years ago when the structure of viruses and the basic features of the process of infection were poorly understood. Now, the details may still be intricate and incompletely defined, but the main facts relating chemical and physical treatments of viruses to the biological activity of viruses are simple and clear:

In order for a given infectious virus particle to remain fully infectious, the chemical structure of its nucleic acid must not be irreversibly harmed and the nucleic acid must be capable of release from the virion in a form that can react normally with transcription-translation apparatus (enzymes, attachment factors, and so on). A prediction of this formulation is that it should be possible to inactivate viruses in two general ways: (1) by changes in the nucleic acid that render it partly or wholly nonfunctional in the central dogma scheme (self-replication, transcription, translation) or (2) by alteration of the protein coat or other structures of the virion (for example, tail fibers of a phage, RNA polymerase of a poxvirus) in such a way as to prevent delivery of the viral nucleic acid into a functional area of the cell. Both types of inactivation have been detected and both can be caused by heat, radiation, and chemicals.


Coat Protein Genetic Code Tobacco Mosaic Virus Coat Protein Gene Physical Agent 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude A. Knight
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and the Virus LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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