Bacteriophages infect cells by attaching to the outer membrane and injecting their DNA into the cell. The phage DNA is then transcribed by the cellâ€™s transcription machinery. A number of physical mechanisms by which DNA can be translocated from the phage capsid into the cell have been identified. A fast ejection driven by the elastic and electrostatic potential energy of the compacted DNA within the viral capsid appears to be used by most phages, at least to initiate infection. In recent in vitro experiments, the speed of DNA translocation from a λ phage capsid has been measured as a function of ejected length over the entire duration of the event. Here, a mechanical model is proposed that is able to explain the observed dependence of exit velocity on ejected length, and that is also consistent with the accepted picture of the geometric arrangement of DNA within the viral capsid.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)