Elasticity theory of the maturation of viral capsids

Perotti, L. E., Aggarwal, A. , Rudnick, J., Bruinsma, R. and Klug, W. S. (2015) Elasticity theory of the maturation of viral capsids. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 77, pp. 86-108. (doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2015.01.006)

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Many viral capsids undergo a series of significant structural changes following assembly, a process known as maturation. The driving mechanisms for maturation usually are chemical reactions taking place inside the proteins that constitute the capsid (“subunits”) that produce structural changes of the subunits. The resulting alterations of the subunits may be directly visible from the capsid structures, as observed by electron microscopy, in the form of a shear shape change and/or a rotation of groups of subunits. The existing thin shell elasticity theory for viral shells does not take account of the internal structure of the subunits and hence cannot describe displacement patterns of the capsid during maturation. Recently, it was proposed for the case of a particular virus (HK97) that thin shell elasticity theory could in fact be generalized to include transformations of the constituent proteins by including such a transformations as a change of the stress-free reference state for the deformation free energy. In this study, we adopt that approach and illustrate its validity in more generality by describing shape changes occurring during maturation across different T-numbers in terms of subunit shearing. Using phase diagrams, we determine the shear directions of the subunits that are most effective to produce capsid shape changes, such as transitions from spherical to facetted capsid shape. We further propose an equivalent stretching mechanism offering a unifying view under which capsid symmetry can be analyzed. We conclude by showing that hexamer shearing not only drives the shape change of the viral capsid during maturation but also is capable of lowering the capsid elastic energy in particular for chiral capsids (e.g., ) and give rise to pre-shear patterns. These additional mechanisms may provide a driving force and an organizational principle for virus assembly.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Aggarwal, Dr Ankush
Authors: Perotti, L. E., Aggarwal, A., Rudnick, J., Bruinsma, R., and Klug, W. S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Published Online:21 January 2015

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