Office of Research, UC Riverside
Roya Zandi
Professor
Physics and Astronomy
royaz@ucr.edu
(951) 827-2096


Physics of virus assembly: energetics and dynamics

AWARD NUMBER
006426-007
FUND NUMBER
21199
STATUS
Closed
AWARD TYPE
3-Grant
AWARD EXECUTION DATE
5/5/2015
BEGIN DATE
10/1/2013
END DATE
9/30/2016
AWARD AMOUNT
$1,500

Sponsor Information

SPONSOR AWARD NUMBER
DMR-1310687
SPONSOR
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
SPONSOR TYPE
Federal
FUNCTION
Organized Research
PROGRAM NAME

Proposal Information

PROPOSAL NUMBER
13040384
PROPOSAL TYPE
Renewal
ACTIVITY TYPE
Basic Research

PI Information

PI
Zandi, Roya
PI TITLE
Other
PI DEPTARTMENT
Physics and Astronomy
PI COLLEGE/SCHOOL
College of Nat & Agr Sciences
CO PIs

Project Information

ABSTRACT

TECHNICAL SUMMARY

This award supports theoretical research and education at the interface of materials science, soft matter physics and biology. The objective of the proposed research is to elucidate the role of RNA in the formation of virus particles. The PI proposes to explore the impact of RNA on the assembly of virus particles focusing on its branching structure and configurations inside capsids.
The goal of the research is to investigate the role of RNA in the formation of spherical capsids with icosahedral symmetry and HIV capsids with conical structures. This will be achieved by using a combination of field theoretical methods developed for branched polymers and the Poisson-Boltzmann approximation for electrostatic interactions. The analytical theory will be augmented by Monte Carlo and Brownian dynamics simulations. This methodology will be modified to study kinetics of formation of immature HIV particles, membrane deformation dynamics and capsid protein transport.

Understanding the formation of viral shells could influence progress in emerging areas of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and gene therapy. In particular, this research could contribute to alternative antiviral strategies based on direct interference with the assembly of infectious viral particles.

This award will contribute to the education and training of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students in a multidisciplinary environment providing them with expertise in soft condensed matter and biological physics. The PI will organize an outreach program for the middle school minority students in Riverside that is aimed to increase participation of underrepresented groups in science and technology.


NONTECHNICAL SUMMARY

This award supports theoretical research and education at the interface of materials science, soft matter physics and biology. In its simplest form, a virus is composed of a protein shell called the capsid that encloses the viral genome. Under the appropriate conditions, the capsid proteins assemble spontaneously around its genome. It is now widely accepted that RNA has an important role in the stability of viral particles. The PI will investigate the role of RNA in the assembly of spherical, cylindrical and conical viral shells. In particular, she aims to explain the spontaneous formation of conical structures, a distinguished feature of HIV capsids. The main question that will be addressed: Does the interaction with genome contribute to the stability of HIV conical structure?

Understanding the formation of viral shells could influence progress in emerging areas of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and gene therapy. In particular, this research could result in alternative antiviral strategies based on direct interference with the assembly of infectious viral particles.

This award will contribute to the education and training of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students in a multidisciplinary environment providing them with expertise in soft condensed matter and biological physics. The PI will organize an outreach program for the middle school minority students in Riverside that is aimed to increase participation of underrepresented groups in science and technology.
(Abstract from NSF)