Nonequilibrium self-assembly dynamics of icosahedral viral capsids packaging genome or polyelectrolyte

Abstract : The survival of viruses partly relies on their ability to self-assemble inside host cells. Although coarse-grained simulations have identified different pathways leading to assembled virions from their components, experimental evidence is severely lacking. Here, we use time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering to uncover the nonequilibrium self-assembly dynamics of icosahedral viral capsids packaging their full RNA genome. We reveal the formation of amorphous complexes via an en masse pathway and their relaxation into virions via a synchronous pathway. The binding energy of capsid subunits on the genome is moderate (~7$k_B$T$_0$, with $k_B$ the Boltzmann constant and T$_0$ = 298 K, the room temperature), while the energy barrier separating the complexes and the virions is high (~ 20$k_B$T$_0$). A synthetic polyelectrolyte can lower this barrier so that filled capsids are formed in conditions where virions cannot build up. We propose a representation of the dynamics on a free energy landscape.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 24, 2018 - 3:59:37 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 2:54:10 PM

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Maelenn Chevreuil, Didier Law-Hine, Jingzhi Chen, Stephane Bressanelli, Sophie Combet, et al.. Nonequilibrium self-assembly dynamics of icosahedral viral capsids packaging genome or polyelectrolyte. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 9, pp.3071. ⟨10.1038/s41467-018-05426-8⟩. ⟨cea-01880211⟩

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