Date Published:MAY 21
Inspired by novel single-molecule and bulk solution measurements, the physics underlying the forces and pressures involved in DNA packaging into bacteriophage capsids became the focus of numerous recent theoretical models. These fall into two general categories: Continuum-elastic theories (CT), and simulation studies-mostly of the molecular dynamics (MD) genre. Both types of models account for the dependence of the force, and hence the packaging free energy (Delta F), on the loaded DNA length, but differ markedly in interpreting their origin. While DNA confinement entropy is a dominant contribution to DF in the MD simulations, in the CT theories this role is fulfilled by interstrand repulsion, and there is no explicit entropy term. The goal of this letter is to resolve this apparent contradiction, elucidate the origin of the entropic term in the MD simulations, and point out its tacit presence in the CT treatments.