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Structural puzzles in virology solved with an overarching icosahedral design principle

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Publication details

JournalNature Communications
DateAccepted/In press - 3 Sep 2019
DatePublished (current) - 27 Sep 2019
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)4414-4422
Original languageEnglish


Viruses have evolved protein containers with a wide spectrum of icosahedral architectures to protect their genetic material. The geometric constraints defining these container designs, and their implications for viral evolution, are open problems in virology. The principle of quasi-equivalence is currently used to predict virus architecture, but improved imaging techniques have revealed increasing numbers of viral outliers. We show that this theory is a special case of an overarching design principle for icosahedral, as well as octahedral, architectures that can be formulated in terms of the Archimedean lattices and their duals. These surface structures encompass different blueprints for capsids with same numbers of structural proteins, as well as for capsid architectures formed from a combination of minor and major capsid proteins, and are conserved within viral lineages. They also apply to other icosahedral structures in nature, and offer alternative designs for man-made materials and nanocontainers in bionanotechnology.

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019

    Research areas

  • VIRUS STRUCTURE, Tilings, Lattices

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