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Paper   IPM / P / 15038
School of Physics
  Title:   Role of metallic core for the stability of virus-like particles in strongly coupled electrostatics
1.  L. Javidpour
2.  A. LoÅ¡dorfer BožiÄ�
3.  R. Podgornik
4.  A. Naji
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Scientific Reports
  Vol.:  9
  Year:  2019
  Pages:   3884
  Supported by:  IPM
Electrostatic interactions play important roles in the formation and stability of viruses and virus-like particles (VLPs) through processes that often involve added, or naturally occurring, multivalent ions. Here, we investigate the electrostatic or osmotic pressure acting on the proteinaceous shell of a generic model of VLPs, comprising a charged outer shell and a metallic nanoparticle core, coated by a charged layer and bathed in an aqueous electrolyte solution. Motivated by the recent studies accentuating the role of multivalent ions for the stability of VLPs, we focus on the effects of multivalent cations and anions in an otherwise monovalent ionic solution. We perform extensive Monte-Carlo simulations based on appropriate Coulombic interactions that consistently take into account the effects of salt screening, the dielectric polarization of the metallic core, and the strong-coupling electrostatics due to multivalent ions. We specifically study the intricate roles these factors play in the electrostatic stability of the model VLPs. It is shown that while the insertion of a metallic nanoparticle by itself can produce negative, inward-directed, pressure on the outer shell, addition of only a small amount of multivalent counterions can robustly engender negative pressures, enhancing the VLP stability across a wide range of values for the system parameters.

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