Spontaneous Domain Formation in Spherically Confined Elastic Filaments

T Curk and JD Farrell and J Dobnikar and R Podgornik, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 123, 047801 (2019).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.047801

Although the free energy of a genome packing into a virus is dominated by DNA-DNA interactions, ordering of the DNA inside the capsid is elasticity driven, suggesting general solutions with DNA organized into spool-like domains. Using analytical calculations and computer simulations of a long elastic filament confined to a spherical container, we show that the ground state is not a single spool as assumed hitherto, but an ordering mosaic of multiple homogeneously ordered domains. At low densities, we observe concentric spools, while at higher densities, other morphologies emerge, which resemble topological links. We discuss our results in the context of metallic wires, viral DNA, and flexible polymers.

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