Form and Function of Protein Nanoshells: Assembly, Mechanics and Dynamics

3 - 7 February 2014

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Description and aim

While research on protein nanoshells has a long history, recent years have seen a rapid development in interdisciplinary techniques to study the structure and function of such particles. What distinguishes the current strong interest is the very recent application of physical principles to this study and the use of nanoshells as containers for a variety of substrates (in the case of viral nanoparticles this is often referred to as “Physical Virology”). The recent work includes extensive theory and simulation and a host of new experiments involving different state-of-the-art techniques. These studies connect the biophysics of nanoshells to classical virology and to materials science.

There are many examples of these protein nanoshells in nature, including viral capsids and non-viral nano-compartments such as carboxysomes and encapsulins. In addition, there are artificially assembled nanoshells that are used in nanotechnology, for example for drug delivery. The topics we discuss pivot around how nanoshells are assembled and how they function. We thereby aim to provide the participants with a clear overview of nanoshell structure and properties as well as their natural and artificial life-cycles from the atomic level all the way to the cellular level. Such an overview is very important because the functioning of a nanoshell can only be properly understood by a comprehensive understanding of each of the aspects of its life cycle. Significant recent advances that have been made in the study of viral and non-viral nanoshells separately make this an opportune moment to bring together the researchers in these fields. By gathering scientists with backgrounds in theory, simulation and experiment we will discuss these recent advances and address the major open questions in these fields together with the new and promising research directions.

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