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Donald L. Caspar (born January 8, 1927) is an American academic who has made significant scientific contributions in structural biology, x-ray, neutron and electron diffraction, and protein plasticity. Earlier at Brandeis University, he more recently served as a Professor of Biology in the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at Florida State University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
In 1962, Caspar and Aaron Klug introduced the concept of quasi-equivalence to account for the arrangement of proteins on the surface of icosahedral virus particles. Caspar-Klug theory has played an important part in shaping the subsequent study of viruses and other macromolecular assemblies. The original concept was based mainly on electron microscope studies, and has now been refined to take account of the atomic resolution structure of viruses, and other details of protein-protein interactions that crystallography has elucidated. Quasi-equivalence continues to be an important component of the philosophical basis for how we think about macromolecular assemblies.
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