Reguera Research Group

... at University of Barcelona

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Home Research Physics of Viruses Physics of viruses

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Viruses are subcellular entities that infect organisms from all different kingdoms of life. In their simplest form they are just constituted by an infective genetic material (DNA or RNA) and a protective protein shell (capsid), which is usually built from several copies of the same protein in a self-assembly process. Viral particles show high symmetrical structures based on diverse geometries (spheres, spherocylinders, cones,...), and possess astonishing mechanical properties. In our research we are interested in:

  • the characterization of these different viral architectures and their mechanical features from physical principles
  • the self-assembly process of viral formation, which is in fact a nucleation problem
  • and the different mechanisms of encapsulation and delivery of the genetic material.
The virus life-cycle in a cell (infection, replication, and release) has been investigated for many years from a biological perspective; our interest is to try to contribute to the understanding of the different steps of the virus life-cycle from a physical standpoint.

Figure from left to right: electron microscopy of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (ICTVdB), x-ray reconstruction of the Turnip Yellow Mosaic Virus (Canady et al., Nature 1996), cryo-em reconstruction of the Bacteriophage T4 (Fokine et al., PNAS 2004), electron microscopy images of the HIV-1 virus (Ganser et al., Science 1999).


Research topics: