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.
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).