Reguera Research Group

... at University of Barcelona

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Home Research Physics of Viruses Physics of viruses

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: