About this event
- Web site
- 22–25 May 2013
- Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
- Registration deadline
- Apr 1, 2013
- Contact address
Statistical Mechanics of Biological Cooperativity
The scientific interface between physics and biology is one of the most active areas of scientific research, as shown by its rapid evolution during the recent years. Biological cooperativity roughly includes all action in biology that cannot be explained linearly, from synergistic interactions on the molecular level up to games and strategic interactions in populations.
The regulation of gene expression is in its simplest form akin to a switch with the binding of transcription factor to DNA playing the role of a relay. However, as has become increasingly clear, the generic picture is more global and more intricate e.g. the rate of transcription of a gene generally depends on transcription factors acting in cooperation, on epigenetic changes and marks and even on the three-dimensional location of chromosomes in the nucleus. All these lead to interesting problems in statistical mechanics ranging from deterministic and stochastic models of gene expression, including Wentzel-Freidlin theory for rare events, to models of nucleosome positioning by entropic effects up to the fractal globule model and other exotic long-lived by only metastable polymer states.
Signalling is the process whereby biological information is transferred from the outside of the cell to regulate internal processes. Statistical mechanics has been used to construct models of chemotaxis, of quorum sensing, and to lymphocyte activation in response to antigens.
It is well known that there is a close analogy between non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and models in evolutionary and population genetics, where selection and mutations play the role of drift, and genetic drift, the (partly) random selection of individuals that survive from one generation to the next plays the role of noise. Over the last decade the fundamental understanding of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics has been revolutionized by the fluctuation relations, which hold also far from equilibrium; these have only very recently been introduced in population genetics, and may there have a much larger impact.
The meeting is generously supported by NORDITA and the Aalto Science Institute, and is carried out with the active participation of the European scientific coordination network Evolution, Regulation and signalling (ERS).