The successful assembly of a closed protein shell (or capsid) is a key step in the replication of viruses and in the production of artificial viral cages for bio/nanotechnological applications. During self-assembly, the favorable binding energy competes with the energetic cost of the growing edge and the elastic stresses generated due to the curvature of the capsid. As a result, incomplete structures such as open caps, cylindrical or ribbon-shaped shells may emerge, preventing the successful replication of viruses. Using elasticity theory and coarse-grained simulations, we analyze the conditions required for these processes to occur and their significance for empty virus self-assembly. We find that the outcome of the assembly can be recast into a universal phase diagram showing that viruses with high mechanical resistance cannot be self-assembled directly as spherical structures. The results of our study justify the need of a maturation step and suggest promising routes to hinder viral infections by inducing mis-assembly.
- Carlos I Mendoza
- Carlos I Mendoza
- David Reguera
- David Reguera
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Pierre Sens, Institut Curie, PSL Research University, CNRS, France
© 2020, Mendoza & Reguera
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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