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Strain and rupture of HIV-1 capsids during uncoating


SignificanceThe mature capsids of HIV-1 are transiently stable complexes that self-assemble around the viral genome during maturation, and uncoat to release preintegration complexes that archive a double-stranded DNA copy of the virus in the host cell genome. However, a detailed view of how HIV cores rupture remains lacking. Here, we elucidate the physical properties involved in capsid rupture using a combination of large-scale all-atom molecular dynamics simulations and cryo-electron tomography. We find that intrinsic strain on the capsid forms highly correlated patterns along the capsid surface, along which cracks propagate. Capsid rigidity also increases with high strain. Our findings provide fundamental insight into viral capsid uncoating.

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