JJ (Jihyeon Je) is a high-school senior at Western Reserve Academy, originally from Busan, South Korea. She is currently working with NCMIR on data/image analysis to understand neural functions and structures. She is interested in employing mathematical tools to analyze biological systems, which introduced her to many programming languages, including the Wolfram Language. In her free time she likes to run, build robots, explore good restaurants and watch Silicon Valley.
Project: Modeling Protein Structure of Viral Capsids
The goal of my project was to create an applicable structural model of the proteins that compose the surface of a virus, which is known as the capsid. The closeness of the obtained idealized tilings to the structures of considered capsids shows that the proposed approach is general for many structures of small- and medium-sized viruses. Such tilings provide a general idea about the quasi-equivalence of proteins, thus simplifying the internal structure of protein molecules and viral genomes.
Main Results in Detail
By creating a Penrose tiling on a sphere, viral capsid models of different sizes and structures were analyzed. The centers of mass for each protein unit were calculated, and were assumed to be the vertices of the tiling. By using the Delaunay mesh algorithm, multiple models of Penrose tilings were created on the sphere. Five different capsid types were analyzed, and spherical tiling models corresponding to each were also created. To minimize the number of types of tiles used, the Delaunay mesh algorithm was used. All models fit to the 5,3,2-fold symmetry axis of an icosahedron.
Based on the developed models, I would like to continue researching viral capsid models, especially on how the stability and structures of different subunits impact the assembly and disassembly pathways. I plan to carry out my analysis on a broader dataset and collect a more generalized modeling algorithm.