Production of mutants of Tobacco Mosaic Virus by chemical alteration of its nucleic acid in vitro

Nature 182:1457-1458 (1958)
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The generation of viral mutants in vitro was demonstrated by treatment of the isolated RNA of Tobacco Mosaic Virus by nitrous acid. This agent causes deaminations converting cytosine into uracil, and adenine into hypoxanthine. Our assay for mutagenesis was the production of local lesions on a tobacco variety on which the untreated strain produces systemic infections only. A variety of different mutants are generated in this way. Quantitative analysis of the kinetics of mutagenesis leads to the conclusion that alteration of a single out of the 6000 nucleotides of the viral RNA is sufficient for causing a mutation.

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Alfred Gierer
Max-Planck-Institute of Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany


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