A statistical approach to close packing of elastic rods and to DNA packaging in viral capsids

E. Katzav*, M. Adda-Bedia, A. Boudaoud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

We propose a statistical approach for studying the close packing of elastic rods. This phenomenon belongs to the class of problems of confinement of low dimensional objects, such as DNA packaging in viral capsids. The method developed is based on Edwards' approach, which was successfully applied to polymer physics and to granular matter. We show that the confinement induces a configurational phase transition from a disordered (isotropic) phase to an ordered (nematic) phase. In each phase, we derive the pressure exerted by the rod (DNA) on the container (capsid) and the force necessary to inject (eject) the rod into (out of) the container. Finally, we discuss the relevance of the present results with respect to physical and biological problems. Regarding DNA packaging in viral capsids, these results establish the existence of ordered configurations, a hypothesis upon which previous calculations were built. They also show that such ordering can result from simple mechanical constraints.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)18900-18904
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number50
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

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