Simple RNA viruses efficiently encapsulate their genome into a nano-sized protein shell: the capsid. Spontaneous coassembly of the genome and the capsid proteins is driven predominantly by electrostatic interactions between the negatively charged RNA and the positively charged inner capsid wall. Using field theoretic formulation we show that the inherently branched RNA secondary structure allows viruses to maximize the amount of encapsulated genome and make assembly more efficient, allowing viral RNAs to out-compete cellular RNAs during replication in infected host cells.
Physical Review E – American Physical Society (APS)
Published: Mar 14, 2014
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