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Influenza virus elementary bodies can be disintegrated by treatment with ether with the liberation of two types of smaller particle, soluble antigen and red cell agglutinin.
Soluble antigen derived from the elementary body is identical in serological and chemical behaviour with soluble antigen recovered from infected tissues. Its chemical properties are those of a ribonucleoprotein.
The agglutinin is an enzyme, with a protein part carrying the enzymic activity and a combining group with affinity for red cells. The agglutinin does not react in complement-fixation tests by the short fixation technique, but by the use of prolonged fixation or by indirect complement fixation it can be shown to contain a strain specific antigen and also a non-specific antigen. The specific antigen is identical with the specific complement-fixing antigen demonstrable in the intact elementary body, and has combining affinity for red blood cells. The non-specific antigen is probably similar to the protein part of the soluble antigen. No evidence has been found that the agglutinin contains either carbohydrate or nucleic acid.
From the ether used to disintegrate the elementary body a serologically active lipid can be recovered which has properties suggesting that it is derived from the host cell.
The author is greatly indebted to Dr L. Dmochowski for assistance in experiments involving high-speed centrifugation, to Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Dr G. L. Ada for supplies of receptor-destroying enzyme, to Dr E. S. Duthie for crystalline trypsin and chymotrypsin, and to Dr R. R. Porter for a sample of crystalline ribonuclease.