Prairie Universities Physics Seminar Series Colloquium
Prairie Universities Physics Seminar Series Colloquium

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Laurie Scott
Physics & Astr
November 5, 2012

Department of Physics & Astronomy presents:
Prairie Universities Physics Seminar Series Colloquium

Nanomechanics of structure formation in single biomolecules; from energy landscapes to gene regulation

Dr. Michael Woodside,
National Institute for Nanotechnology NRC
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Alberta

Biological molecules like proteins, DNA, and RNA self-assemble ("fold") into complex three-dimensional structures that are essential to their function. Physically, folding is governed by the configurational energy landscape of the molecule, but such landscapes are notoriously difficult to measure. I will describe how, using optical tweezers to pull apart the structures of single molecules, we can now reconstruct the shape of the folding landscape for these molecules. For the first time, based on such landscape profiles we have been able to measure the configurational diffusion constant determining the rates for the structural transitions, and we have found the actual time spent during the transition itself. I will also describe how we have used this type of energy landscape analysis to probe the role played by RNA structures known as "pseudoknots" in the process of programmed translational frameshifting, whereby the reading frame of the genetic code is shifted in order to regulate the proteins that are being made.

Friday 30 November 2012
2:00 pm, Room B650, U Hall

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