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BIRS Workshop Lecture Videos

DNA knots and liquid crystals in icosahedral bacteriophages Arsuaga, Javier


The three dimensional organization of genomes is a key player in multiple biological processes including the genome packaging and release in viruses. The genome of some viruses, such as bacteriophages or human herpes, is a double stranded DNA (dsDNA) molecule that is stored inside a viral protein capsid at a concentration of 200 mg/ml-800mg/ml and an osmotic pressure of 70 atmospheres. The organization of the viral genome under these extreme physical conditions is believed to be liquid crystalline but remains to be properly understood. A general picture of this organization has been recently given by cryoelectron microscopy (cryoEM) studies that show a series of concentric layers near the surface of the viral capsid followed by a disordered arrangement of DNA fibers near the center of the capsid. In this talk I will present computational and experimental results modeling the structure and packing of DNA in bacteriophage P4. P4 is characterized for producing DNA knots and for being one of the smallest bacteriophages with only 45nm in diameter. I will discuss experimental results concerning the structure of P4 and how liquid crystal models can help predict the properties of DNA in P4 and the formation of knots.

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