Standard Article

Raman Spectroscopy in Virus Structure Analysis

  1. Daniel Němeček,
  2. George J. Thomas Jr

Published Online: 15 AUG 2009

DOI: 10.1002/3527600434.eap670

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

How to Cite

Němeček, D. and Thomas, G. J. 2009. Raman Spectroscopy in Virus Structure Analysis. Encyclopedia of Applied Physics. .

Author Information

  1. University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Biological Sciences, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 AUG 2009


The structures of complex biological assemblies, such as viruses, and the molecular mechanisms governing virus assembly in vivo and in vitro require investigation by multiple biophysical techniques. One such technique is Raman spectroscopy, which is particularly useful for probing key steps in the assembly pathways of viruses and for elucidating the molecular structures of viral proteins and nucleic acids. Here, we briefly review the implementation of methods of Raman spectroscopy, including ultraviolet resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy and polarized Raman spectroscopy as structural probes of native viruses, viral precursor assemblies and their constituent proteins, and nucleic acids. We illustrate the powerful analytical approaches of singular value decomposition (SVD) and polarized Raman microspectroscopy for unique quantitative assessments of viral protein structures. Attention is focused on recent applications to bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) of icosahedral (P22 and HK97) and cylindrical (fd, Pf1, Pf3, and PH75) capsid architectures. Methods of Raman spectroscopy provide novel and unique insights into viral macromolecular structures and their transformations that are essential to morphogenesis.


  • Raman spectroscopy;
  • virus;
  • protein;
  • DNA;
  • RNA structure