Smectic viral capsids and the aneurysm instability
S. Dharmavaram, J. Rudnick, Charles M. Lawrence, R. F. Bruinsma
Journal of Physics- Condensed Matter
The capsids of certain Archaea-infecting viruses undergo large shape changes, while maintaining their integrity against rupture by osmotic pressure. We propose that these capsids are in a smectic liquid crystalline state, with the capsid proteins assembling along spirals. We show that smectic capsids are intrinsically stabilized against the formation of localized bulges with non-zero Gauss curvature while still allowing for large-scale cooperative shape transformation that involves global changes in the Gauss curvature.
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