Slow and steady wins the race: physical limits on the rate of viral DNA packaging

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5 Scopus citations


During the assembly of dsDNA viruses such as the tailed bacteriophages and herpesviruses, the viral chromosome is compacted to near crystalline density inside a preformed head shell. DNA translocation is driven by powerful ring ATPase motors that couple ATP binding, hydrolysis, and release to force generation and movement. Studies of the motor of the bacteriophage phi29 have revealed a complex mechanochemistry behind this process that slows as the head fills. Recent studies of the physical behavior of packaging DNA suggest that surprisingly long-time scales of relaxation of DNA inside the head and jamming phenomena during packaging create the physical need for regulation of the rate of packaging. Studies of DNA packaging in viral systems have, therefore, revealed fundamental insight into the complex behavior of DNA and the need for biological systems to accommodate these physical constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Virology
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health ( R01GM122979 , R01GM071552 and R56AI127809 ) and the National Science Foundation ( MCB 1715293 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


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