DIMACS Princeton Theory Seminar


The Mathematics of Virus Shell Assembly


Bonnie Berger


Room 302, Computer Science Building
Princeton University


1:30 PM
Thursday, April 27, 1995


Viruses have shells made of repeated protein subunits surrounding their genetic information. Many viruses, including polio, herpes, and AIDS, have icosahedral-shaped shells. It is not understood how these shells self-assemble from hundreds of similar protein subunits. A resolution to this quesiton is important because it might eventually result in mechanisms for interrupting shell formation and interfering with the infection process. In the talk, I will describe surprisingly simple sets of local rules that may explain the self-assembly of nearly all icosahedral viruses, including some whose structures have puzzled researchers. With these local rules, we can simulate the assembly process computationally, and design a "toolkit" that will allow biologists to study virus shell assembly on a computer screen.

This is joint work with Peter Shor, Lisa Tucker-Kellogg, and Jonathan King.

Host: Andrew Yao, yao@cs.princeton.edu

Document last modified on April 19, 1995