Osmotic Shock and the Strength of Viral Capsids

Published in: Biophysical Journal, v. 85, no. 1, July 2003, p. 70-74

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2003

by Amado Cordova, Markus Deserno, William M. Gelbart, Avinoam Ben-Shaul

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Osmotic shock is a familiar means for rupturing viral capsids and exposing their genomes intact. The necessary conditions for providing this shock involve incubation in high-concentration salt solutions, and lower permeability of the capsids to salt ions than to water molecules. We discuss here how values of the capsid strength can be inferred from calculations of the osmotic pressure differences associated with measured values of the critical concentration of incubation solution.

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