DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICAL AND STATISTICAL SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

PIMS-MITACS MATHEMATICAL BIOLOGY SEMINAR


MONDAY, April 4, 2005
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
CAB 657

Ms. Elaine Beltaos
Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
University of Alberta

DNA strands and knots

The basic form of a DNA molecule is the familiar double helix (or double spiral) shape made up of two single strands; however, the DNA strands can transform into other topological structures. For example, a ring made of a single strand of DNA can be cut and then rejoined to form a knot, or two rings can be cut and then rejoined to link together.  Enzymes called topoisomerases are responsible for these transformations, which change the function of the DNA molecule. In this talk, we will discuss some topology and knot theory, and how they apply to molecular biology; in particular, the topological transformations caused by the DNA topoisomerases.