Simple viruses consist of RNA and proteins that form a shell (called a capsid) that protects the RNA. The capsid is highly ordered, with the proteins being arranged in an icosahedral shell. Many simple viruses are self-assembled: you can mix the RNA and the capsid proteins in a test tube, and they will spontaneously form infectious viruses in high yield. This result suggests that we can understand RNA virus self-assembly from the perspective of statistical physics. The central question is how a random process like self-assembly can lead to a high yield of well-formed viruses. To address this question, we have developed an interferometric technique that allows us to measure the scattering of individual assembling viral particles (MS2 bacteriophage) on time scales ranging from 1 ms to 1000 s. I will discuss the results of these experiments and how they shed light on the assembly process.
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Meeting ID: 916 7933 2668