Biologists have discovered that the physical manifestation of DNA loops are a consequence of many biochemical processes in the cell, such as the regulation of gene expression. In other words, these loops indicate the presence of enzymes or other proteins that are turned on. Now physicists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that stretching the DNA molecule can also turn off the proteins known to cause loops in DNA.
“We showed that certain enzymes acting on DNA could be switched off or on simply by applying a small amount of mechanical tension across the DNA molecule,” said Douglas Smith, an assistant professor of physics at UCSD who headed the team that published the discovery in the December issue of the Biophysical Journal. “We showed this by mechanically manipulating and stretching single DNA molecules. This switching effect could provide a molecular mechanism for cells to be able to sense and respond to mechanical stresses that they may normally experience. Such stresses could be generated internally by the cells themselves, such as when the cell undergoes changes in shape during the cell cycle, or as external stresses from the environment.”
The amount of tension or stretching that needs to be applied to the molecule is extremely small, Smith added, only one pico-Newton, or one-trillionth of the force generated by the weight of an apple. Other members of the UCSD team were Gregory Gemmen, a physics graduate student, and Rachel Millin, a laboratory assistant. The study was supported by grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Kinship Foundation and Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.
Kim McDonald | EurekAlert!
Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals
21.02.2018 | University of Chicago
The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally
21.02.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences