Simulating the assembly of viruses and bacterial microcompartments
Prof. Michael Hagan, Brandheis University, MA
The self-assembly of a protein shell around a cargo is a common mechanism of encapsulation in biology. For example, many viruses assemble an icosahedral protein shell (capsid) around the the viral nucleic acid. Some viruses then acquire an additional exterior coating by budding through a cell membrane. Similarly, bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are ‘organelles’ inside of bacteria, consisting of large icosahedral protein shells that assemble around collections of enzymes. In this talk I will use coarse-grained computational models and simple scaling calculations to elucidate the factors that control self-assembly around a cargo or on a membrane. I will particularly focus on how material properties (such as nucleic acid electric charge, membrane bending modulus, or enzyme cohesive forces) control assembly pathways and the size of the assembled shell.