Determination of viral capsid elastic properties from equilibrium thermal fluctuations.


We apply two-dimensional elasticity theory to viral capsids to develop a framework for calculating elastic properties of viruses from equilibrium thermal fluctuations of the capsid surface in molecular dynamics and elastic network model trajectories. We show that the magnitudes of the long wavelength modes of motion available in a simulation with all atomic degrees of freedom are recapitulated by an elastic network model. For the mode spectra to match, the elastic network model must be scaled appropriately by a factor which can be determined from an icosahedrally constrained all-atom simulation. With this method we calculate the two-dimensional Young's modulus Y, bending modulus κ, and Föppl-von Kármán number γ, for the T=1 mutant of the Sesbania mosaic virus. The values determined are in the range of previous theoretical estimates.

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