First Video of Viruses Assembling

October 6, 2019

Fig. 1: Overview of the measurement. (A) A structural model of the MS2 capsid (PDB ID: 2ms2) shows its small size and T=3 structure. The 2 coat-protein dimer configurations are shown in gray and purple.(Garmann, et al.*)

For the first time, researchers have captured images of the formation of individual viruses, offering a real-time view into the kinetics of viral assembly. The research provides new insights into how to fight viruses and engineer self-assembling particles.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.*

"Structural biology has been able to resolve the structure of viruses with amazing resolution, down to every atom in every protein," said Vinothan Manoharan, the Wagner Family Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "But we still didn’t know how that structure assembles itself. Our technique gives the first window into how viruses assemble and reveals the kinetics and pathways in quantitative detail."

Manoharan is also co-director of the Quantitative Biology Initiative, a cross-Harvard effort that brings together biology, novel measurement techniques, statistics, and mathematics to develop causal, predictive mathematical models of biological systems...

Continue reading "First Video of Viruses Assembling" by Leah Burrows, October 2, 2019.

* Also read R.F. Garmann, A.M. Goldfain, and V.N. Manoharan, "Measurements of the self-assembly kinetics of individual viral capsids around their RNA genome," PNAS (Sep 30, 2019)