Type: Journal Publication
Abstract: Viruses self-assemble from identical capsid proteins and their genome consisting, for example, of a long single stranded (ss) RNA. For a big class of T = 3 viruses capsid proteins have long positive N-terminal tails. We explore the role played by the Coulomb interaction between the brush of positive N-terminal tails rooted at the inner surface of the capsid and the negative ss RNA molecule. We show that viruses are most stable when the total contour length of ss RNA is close to the total length of the tails. For such a structure the absolute value of the total RNA charge is approximately twice larger than the charge of the capsid. This conclusion agrees with structural data.
Cited as: Tao Hu, R. Zhang and B.I. Shklovskii, "Electrostatic theory of viral self-assembly: a toy model", Physica A 387, 3059 (2008)