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Euler's elasticas and their applications to DNA, nucleosomes and chromatin fibers

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In the year 1744 Leonard Euler gave the first modern formulation for the energetics underlying the bending of elasticas, thin elastic strips. This theory is of great importance for the understanding of the behavior of DNA inside the chromatin complex, the DNA -protein complex that fills the nuclei of plant and animal cells. After introducing the history of the Euler elasticas, I shall present three applications and extensions of Euler’s theory to the various levels of the hierarchical chromatin complex: (1) DNA : multiple plectoneme formation for DNA under twist (2) Nucleosomes: kinetic protection against tension (3) Chromatin fibers: fiber geometry as a packing problem The presented theoretical models allow a quantitative understanding of puzzling experimental observations and suggest biological implications.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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