Viruses and Geometry: New Insights into Virus Structure, Assembly, Evolution & Therapy

Prof. Reidun Twarock (University of York)

Frank Adams Room 1,

Viruses are remarkable examples of order at the nanoscale. The capsids of many viruses, enclosing and protecting their genomes, are organised in lattice-like arrangements with overall icosahedral symmetry. Mathematical techniques from group, graph and tiling theory can therefore be used to characterise their architectures. In this talk, I will introduce our mathematical approach to the modelling of viral capsids and its applications in vaccine design. I will then present our Hamiltonian path approach to the modelling of genome packing and virus assembly that underpins the discovery of an assembly instruction manual in a wide range of viruses, including Picornaviruses, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B virus. Based on these results, I will then construct fitness landscapes in order to model viral evolution and compare different forms of anti-viral therapy.

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