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We report a detailed comparison between calculations of inter-filament interactions based on Monte-Carlo simulations and experimental features of lateral aggregation of bacteriophages fd and M13 induced by a number of divalent metal ions. The general findings are consistent with the polyelectrolyte nature of the virus filaments and confirm that the solution electrostatics account for most of the experimental features observed. One particularly interesting discovery is resolubilization for bundles of either fd or M13 viruses when the concentration of the bundle-inducing metal ion Mg2+ or Ca2+ is increased to large (>100 mM) values. In the range of Mg2+ or Ca2+ concentrations where large bundles of the virus filaments are formed, the optimal attractive interaction energy between the virus filaments is estimated to be on the order of 0.01 kT per net charge on the virus surface when a recent analytical prediction to the experimentally defined conditions of resolubilization is applied. We also observed qualitatively distinct behavior between the alkali-earth metal ions and the divalent transition metal ions in their action on the charged viruses. The understanding of metal ions-induced reversible aggregation based on solution electrostatics may lead to potential applications in molecular biology and medicine.
Date Posted: 16 August 2007
This document has been peer reviewed.