Structure and the role of filling rate on model dsDNA packed in a phage capsid

Cecilia Bores, B. Montgomery Pettitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The conformation of DNA inside bacteriophages is of paramount importance for understanding packaging and ejection mechanisms. Models describing the structure of the confined macromolecule have depicted highly ordered conformations, such as spooled or toroidal arrangements that focus on reproducing experimental results obtained by averaging over thousands of configurations. However, it has been seen that more disordered states, including DNA kinking and the presence of domains with different DNA orientation can also accurately reproduce many of the structural experiments. In this work we have compared the results obtained through different simulated filling rates. We find a rate dependence for the resulting constrained states showing different anisotropic configurations. We present a quantitative analysis of the density distribution and the DNA orientation across the capsid showing excellent agreement with structural experiments. Second, we have analyzed the correlations within the capsid, finding evidence of the presence of domains characterized by aligned segments of DNA characterized by the structure factor. Finally, we have measured the number and distribution of DNA defects such as the emergence of bubbles and kinks as function of the filling rate. We find the slower the rate the fewer kink defects that appear and they would be unlikely at experimental filling rates with our model parameters. DNA domains of various orientation get larger with slower rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number012406
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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