Biophysics of viral infectivity: Matching genome length with capsid size

Elmar Nurmemmedov, Martin Castelnovo, Carlos Enrique Catalano, Alex Evilevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this review, we discuss recent advances in biophysical virology, presenting experimental and theoretical studies on the physical properties of viruses. We focus on the double-stranded (ds) DNA bacteriophages as model systems for all of the dsDNA viruses both prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Recent studies demonstrate that the DNA packaged into a viral capsid is highly pressurized, which provides a force for the first step of passive injection of viral DNA into a bacterial cell. Moreover, specific studies on capsid strength show a strong correlation between genome length, and capsid size and robustness. The implications of these newly appreciated physical properties of a viral particle with respect to the infection process are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-356
Number of pages30
JournalQuarterly Reviews of Biophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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