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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 May 4;98(18):185502. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Density-wave theory of the capsid structure of small icosahedral viruses.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physique Theorique et Astroparticules, CNRS-Universite Montpellier 2, Place Eugene Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France.


We apply Landau theory of crystallization to explain and to classify the capsid structures of small viruses with spherical topology and icosahedral symmetry. We develop an explicit method which predicts the positions of centers of mass for the proteins constituting the viral capsid shell. Corresponding density distribution function which generates the positions has a universal form without any fitting parameter. The theory describes in a uniform way both the structures satisfying the well-known Caspar and Klug geometrical model for capsid construction and those violating it.

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