How do cells pack their DNA?

13 May 2011

Leonid Mirny
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


How are two meters of human DNA folded inside a cell nucleus? Packing and processing of DNA by the cells pose several intriguing problems for polymer physics. Recently developed experimental methods of chromosome conformational capture provided a comprehensive view at DNA organization inside the cell. I will summarize several physical characteristics of higher-order chromatin structure revealed by these experiments. Next, I will introduce a polymer model of the "fractal globule" and suggest why this dense, highly organized, and unknotted conformation is an attractive model for chromatin architecture. I will discuss connections between high-order chromatin architecture, gene expression and chromosomal abnormalities in cancer.

current theory lunch schedule