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Modeling the dynamics of enzyme-cluster self-assembly

Michele Castellana (Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, USA)
When Apr 29, 2015
from 10:45 to 12:00
Where room 116
Attendees Michele Castellana
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Self-assembly of molecules into organized, functional structures is a ubiquitous phenomenon in living matter: a notable example is the clustering of enzymes—molecules accelerating the rates of metabolic reactions—into multi-enzyme complexes. Enzyme clusters constitute a particular conformation of biological matter having some features in common with both liquids and crystals: Enzyme clusters are dynamical objects and enzymes diffuse, bind and unbind from different agglomerates, however such clusters may have a regular, scaffold-like internal structure. Recent studies suggest that enzyme molecules in living cells dynamically self-assemble into clusters to increase the metabolic efficiency, i.e. the fraction of substrates that enzymes convert into product in metabolic reactions. However, the dynamical mechanism by which enzyme clusters self-assemble is still unclear, and it leads to a complex non-equilibrium statistical-mechanics problem. In this seminar, I will discuss my research plan on building a model for the dynamics of cluster self-assembly with methods borrowed from statistical mechanics of non-equilibrium and disordered systems, statistical inference, and condensed-matter physics, and I will discuss its potential significance for both physics and biology.