The effects of the shape of a capsid on the ejection rate of a single polymer chain through a nanopore

CB Park and BJ Sung, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 158, 164904 (2023).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0145382

The shape of a viral capsid affects the equilibrium conformation of DNA inside the capsid: the equilibrium DNA conformation inside a spherical capsid is a concentric spool while the equilibrium conformation inside an elongated capsid is a twisted toroid. The conformation of DNA, jammed inside the capsid due to high internal pressure, influences the ejection kinetics of the DNA from the capsid. Therefore, one would expect that the DNA ejection kinetics would be subject to the shape of the viral capsid. The effects of the capsid shape on the ejection, however, remain elusive partly due to a plethora of viral capsid shapes. In this work, we perform Langevin dynamics simulations for the ejection of a polymer chain from three different types of viral capsids: (1) spherical, (2) cubic, and (3) cuboid capsids. We find that the ejection rate of the polymer chain from the spherical capsid is much faster than that from either cubic or cuboid capsids. The polymer chain in the spherical capsid may undergo collective rotational relaxation more readily such that the polymer chain becomes more mobile inside the spherical capsid, which enhances the ejection kinetics. On the other hand, a threading motion is dominant inside cubic and cuboid capsids. We also find that the effects of the collective rotational motion become more significant for a more rigid chain inside a capsid.

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