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Published October 2003 | public
Journal Article

A director-field model of DNA packaging in viral capsids


The present work is concerned with the formulation of a continuum theory of viral DNA packaging based on a director field representation of the encapsidated DNA. The point values of the director field give the local direction and density of the DNA. The continuity of the DNA strand requires that the director field be divergence-free and tangent to the capsid wall. The energy of the DNA is defined as a functional of the director field which accounts for bending, torsion, and for electrostatic interactions through a density-dependent cohesive energy. The operative principle which determines the encapsidated DNA conformation is assumed to be energy minimization. We show that torsionless toroidal solenoids, consisting of planar coils contained within meridional planes and wrapped around a spool core, and fine mixtures of the solenoid and spool phase, beat the inverse spool construction.

Additional Information

© 2003 Elsevier. Received 10 December 2002, Revised 14 April 2003, Available online 17 July 2003. We are grateful to W. Gelbart for privately communicating to us the form of the cohesive energy used in this work and the values of the parameters, and for helpful discussions. We are also grateful to P. Purohit, J. Kondev, and R. Phillips for making a preprint of their paper available to us, and for many helpful discussions.

Additional details

September 15, 2023
October 23, 2023