School of Mathematics

Dorothy Buck

Dorothy Buck abstract

Knotted DNA: Mathematical Models and Biological Consequences

The central axis of the famous DNA double helix is often topologically constrained or even circular.  The shape of this axis can influence which proteins interact with the underlying DNA.  So it is perhaps not surprising that in all cells there are proteins whose primary function is to change the DNA axis topology -- for example converting a torus link into an unknot. These proteins are major targets of both antibiotics and chemotherapeutic drugs.  Additionally, there are several protein families that change the axis topology as a by-product of their interaction with DNA, including the main proteins used to genetically modify organisms. This talk will give an overview of some of the topological methods used to model these reactions, including Dehn surgery and Knot Homologies, and how the answers from these models aid biologists. (No prior biological knowledge needed.)