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Vaccinia virus (VV) produces two antigenically and structurally distinct infectious virions, intracellular mature virus (IMV) and extracellular enveloped virus (EEV), which bind to unidentified and possibly different cellular receptors. Studies of VV binding have been hampered by having two infectious virions and by the rupture of the EEV outer membrane in the majority of EEV virions during purification. To overcome these problems, we have developed a novel approach to study VV binding that is based on confocal microscopy and does not require EEV purification. In this assay, individual virus particles adsorbed to the cell are simultaneously distinguished and quantified by double immunofluorescence labelling with antibody markers for EEV and IMV. By this method, we show unequivocally that IMV and EEV bind to different cellular receptors. Three independent observations allow this conclusion. First, the efficiencies with which IMV and EEV bind to different cell lines are unrelated; second, cell surface digestion with some enzymes affects IMV and EEV binding differently; and third, the binding of a monoclonal antibody to cells prevents IMV binding but not EEV binding. This technique may be widely applicable for studying the binding of different viruses.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Virology


American Society for Microbiology

Publication Date





4032 - 4041