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Watching a simple virus assemble itself

Friday, November 15 at 1:30pm to 2:30pm

PG6 112

Join us for a talk on "Watching a simple virus assemble itself ” with Dr. Rees Garmann, Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, UCLA, and Postdoctoral Fellow, Applied Physics, Harvard University. This seminar will take place Friday, November 15, 2019, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm in PG6 112.

In this talk, Dr. Garmann will describe the ongoing efforts to understand the kinetics of viral capsid assembly by monitoring the formation of individual capsids. The formation of a viral capsid — the highly-ordered protein shell that surrounds the genome of a virus — is the classic example of self-assembly in biology. As far back as the 1950s and 1960s, researchers have been reconstituting viral capsids in the laboratory simply by mixing together viral coat proteins and genome molecules. The high yields of proper capsids that assemble in such experiments is remarkable, given their structural complexity. 

In their experiments, they inject a solution of viral coat proteins over a glass coverslip on which viral RNA strands are tethered to the surface. Using an optical technique called interferometric scattering microscopy, they measure how many proteins bind to each RNA as a function of time. Their measurements reveal some new features of the assembly process — such as an initial nucleation step and the possibility of subsequent nucleation steps — that may help them understand how viruses regulate the assembly of correct capsids, and how assembly can go awry.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Physics, and Biochemistry Ph.D. Program.