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Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Oct 31;101(18):186101. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

Role of reversibility in viral capsid growth: a paradigm for self-assembly.

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Physics Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel.


Self-assembly at submicroscopic scales is an important but little understood phenomenon. A prominent example is virus capsid growth, whose underlying behavior can be modeled using simple particles that assemble into polyhedral shells. Molecular dynamics simulation of shell formation in the presence of an atomistic solvent provides new insight into the self-assembly mechanism, notably that growth proceeds via a cascade of strongly reversible steps and, despite the large variety of possible intermediates, only a small fraction of highly bonded forms appear on the pathway.

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