We use a mesoscale simulation approach to explore the impact of different capsid geometries on the packaging and ejection dynamics of polymers of different flexibility. We find that both packing and ejection times are faster for flexible polymers. For such polymers a sphere packs more quickly and ejects more slowly than an ellipsoid. For semiflexible polymers, however, the case relevant to DNA, a sphere both packs and ejects more easily. We interpret our results by considering both the thermodynamics and the relaxational dynamics of the polymers. The predictions could be tested with biomimetic experiments with synthetic polymers inside artificial vesicles. Our results suggest that phages may have evolved to be roughly spherical in shape to optimize the speed of genome ejection, which is the first stage in infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)