Several viruses exploit clathrin-mediated endocytosis to gain entry into host cells.
This process is also used extensively in biomedical applications to deliver nanoparticles (NPs) to diseased cells.
In this paper we study cellular uptake of viruses and NPs with a focus on coat assembly.
We characterize the internalization process by the mean time between the binding of a particle to the membrane and its entry into the cell.
Using a coarse-grained model which maps the stochastic dynamics of coat formation onto a one-dimensional random walk, we derive an analytical formula for this quantity.
A study of the dependence of the mean internalization time on NP size shows that there is an upper bound above which this time becomes extremely large, and an optimal size at which it attains a minimum.
Our estimates of these sizes compare well with experimental data.
We also study the sensitivity of the obtained results on coat parameters to identify factors which significantly affect the internalization kinetics.
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Accepted for publication 2 September 2013 Published Volume 2014:9(Supplement 1) Pages 51—63 DOI https://org/10.2147/IJN.