We, theoretically, investigate the effect of ions on the packing and ejection dynamics of flexible and semiflexible polymers from spherical viral capsids. We find that when the polymer charge is less screened, or the Debye length increases (corresponding to a buffer with low concentration of a monovalent salt, such as Na), the packing becomes more difficult and it may stop midway. Ejection, instead, proceeds more easily if the electrostatic screening is small. On the other hand, more screening (corresponding, for example, to the addition of divalent ions such as Mg2) results in easier packing and slower ejection. We interpret this as resulting from electrostatic forces among the various polymer sections, which can be tuned with the type of salt present in the solution. We also discuss how the DNA structure inside the capsid changes due to screened electrostatic interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry