Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Virus capsids are protein shells that package the viral genome. Although their morphology and biological functions can vary markedly, capsids often play critical roles in regulating viral infection pathways. A detailed knowledge of virus capsids, including their dynamic structure, interactions with cellular factors, and the specific roles they play in the replication cycle, is imperative for the development of antiviral therapeutics. The following perspective introduces an emerging area of computational biology that focuses on the dynamics of virus capsids and capsid-protein assemblies, with particular emphasis on the effects of small-molecule drug binding on capsid structure, stability, and allosteric pathways. When performed at chemical detail, molecular dynamics simulations can reveal subtle changes in virus capsids induced by drug molecules a fraction of their size. Here, the current challenges of performing all-atom capsid-drug simulations are discussed, along with an outlook on the applicability of virus capsid simulations to reveal novel drug targets.