HK97, Virus in Golden Cage

Material used: Wood and vinyl

This sculpture shows the supercoiling under great pressure of DNA (in white) in the capsid head of the virus HK97. HK97 is a benign virus named after its discovery, in pig feces, in Hong Kong in 1997. It is remarkable for four things: (1) its icosahedral shape, which is difficult to construct and has remarkable geometric properties; (2) the HK97 fold which is widely employed in nature for strength; (3) the chainmail (in blue) reinforcement to contain the high pressure head with its supercoiled genetic payload that is injected into the host cell; (4) the skew geometry of the proteins on the virus head. All, but the last, are illustrated in this sculpture and show that the virus is a message in a bottle to humanity.