Reguera Research Group

... at University of Barcelona

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Self-assembly

The genetic material of a virus contains the basic information to build new viral particles using the machinery of the infected cell. Therefore at some point this genetic code activates its own replication, and the production of multiple copies of the typically single protein that constitutes the viral shell (capsid). Finally these elements self-assemble spontanously to produce a viral particle. Even though some viruses require a molecular motor to package the genetic material into the capsid, in general there is not ATP consumption in the whole self-assembly process (capsid formation and packaging). From a physical perspective this process is ruled by the minimization of the free energy of the system, and it shares some similarities with crystallitation and other nucleation processes. In our research we are developing different approaches to characterize the interaction between the different elements of the viral particles, and combining computational and statistical physics tools to study the kinetics of viral self-assembly.