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Relationships between RNA Topology and Nucleocapsid Structure in a Model Icosahedral Virus

Abstract : The process of genome packaging in most of viruses is poorly understood, notably the role of the genome itself in the nucleocapsid structure. For simple icosahedral single-stranded RNA viruses, the branched topology due to the RNA secondary structure is thought to lower the free energy required to complete a virion. We investigate the structure of nucleocapsids packaging RNA segments with various degrees of compactness by small-angle X-ray scattering and cryotransmission electron microscopy. The structural differences are mild even though compact RNA segments lead on average to better ordered and more uniform particles across the sample. Numerical calculations confirm that the free energy is lowered for the RNA segments displaying the larger number of branch points. The effect is however opposite with synthetic polyelectrolytes, where a star topology gives rise to more disorder in the capsids than a linear topology. If RNA compactness and size account in part for the proper assembly of the nucleocapsid and the genome selectivity, other factors most likely related to the host cell environment during viral assembly, must come into play as well.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03351285
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 10:47:51 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 24, 2021 - 3:31:19 AM

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Laurent Marichal, Laetitia Gargowitsch, Rafael Rubim, Christina Sizun, Kalouna Kra, et al.. Relationships between RNA Topology and Nucleocapsid Structure in a Model Icosahedral Virus. Biophysical Journal, Biophysical Society, 2021, 120 (18), pp.3925-3936. ⟨10.1016/j.bpj.2021.08.021⟩. ⟨hal-03351285⟩

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