Notices of the International Consortium of Chinese Mathematicians

Volume 10 (2022)

Number 2

Protein geometry, function, and mutation

Pages: 1 – 10



Robert Penner (Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France; and Department of Mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A.)


This survey for mathematicians summarizes several works by the author on protein geometry and protein function with applications to viral glycoproteins in general and the spike glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in particular. Background biology and biophysics are sketched. This body of work culminates in a postulate that protein secondary structure regulates mutation, with backbone hydrogen bonds materializing in critical regions to avoid mutation, and disappearing from other regions to enable it.


protein geometry, protein function, protein backbone geometry, protein secondary structure, SO(3) graph connections, viral glycoproteins, viral mutation, backbone hydrogen bonds, backbone free energy

Published 6 February 2023