How to Disassemble a Virus Capsid - A Computational Approach

Claudio Alexandre Piedade, António E. N. Ferreira, Carlos Cordeiro


In contrast with the assembly process of virus particles, which has been the focus of many experimental and theoretical studies, the disassembly of virus protein capsids, a key event during infection, has generally been overlooked. Although the nature of the intracellular triggers that promote subunit disassembly may be diverse, here we postulate that the order of subunit removal is mainly determined by each virus structural geometry and the strength of subunit interactions. Following this assumption, we modelled the early stages of virus disassembly of T =1 icosahedral viruses, predicting the sequence of removal of up to five subunits in a sample of 51 structures. We used combinatorics and geometry, to find non-geometrically identical capsid fragments and estimated their energy by three different heuristics based on the number of weak inter-subunit contacts. We found a main disassembly pathway common to a large group of viruses consisting of the removal of a triangular trimer. Densoviruses lose a square-shaped tetramer while Human Adenoviruses lose a pentagonshaped pentamer. Results were virtually independent of the heuristic measure used. These findings suggest that particular subunit interactions might be an important target for novel antiviral drugs designed to interfere with capsid disassembly.


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Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Piedade C., Ferreira A. and Cordeiro C. (2017). How to Disassemble a Virus Capsid - A Computational Approach . In Proceedings of the 10th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 3: BIOINFORMATICS, (BIOSTEC 2017) ISBN 978-989-758-214-1, pages 217-222. DOI: 10.5220/0006249802170222

in Bibtex Style

author={Claudio Alexandre Piedade and António E. N. Ferreira and Carlos Cordeiro},
title={How to Disassemble a Virus Capsid - A Computational Approach},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 10th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 3: BIOINFORMATICS, (BIOSTEC 2017)},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the 10th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 3: BIOINFORMATICS, (BIOSTEC 2017)
TI - How to Disassemble a Virus Capsid - A Computational Approach
SN - 978-989-758-214-1
AU - Piedade C.
AU - Ferreira A.
AU - Cordeiro C.
PY - 2017
SP - 217
EP - 222
DO - 10.5220/0006249802170222