Single molecule studies of DNA and RNA enzymes / combination with nanofabrication
01 / 2001 - 12 / 2005
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
I am planning to develop a research program centered on experimentally exploring the dynamic function of DNA and RNA enzymes and complex assemblies of such enzymes interacting with nucleic acids. The machinery controlling the structure, transcription, duplication and translation of DNA in cells is highly complex and involves many regulatory pathways. Understanding how the machinery works in detail is a central challenge in life sciences with far ranging implications for basic and applied science. Much knowledge exists about the biochemistry of the core processes and about the static structure of many of the participating bio-macromolecules. A very important part of the function of the machinery are however the dynamic physical processes in which the molecules interact. Experimentally exploring these dynamics, most often only feasible in microscopic single-molecule experiments, is just now becoming possible and is a rich research field in biological physics for the future. The increasingly microscopic and quantitative analysis methods will push the limits towards increasingly exact and physical/mathematical understanding of molecular functions. This goal is spanning boundaries between biology, biochemistry, physics, and mathematics. This proposal focuses on a group of very important, but also functionally very complex enzymes, namely viral enzymes that interact with and mechanically manipulate DNA.