Press Release:

Rules of protein-DNA recognition: computational and experimental advances

Arriving in Banff, Alberta on Sunday, June 16 and departing Friday June 21, 2013

The Banff International Research Station will host the "Rules of protein-DNA recognition: computational and experimental advances" workshop from June 16th to June 21st, 2013.

Genetic information stored in the DNA of each cell is read with the assistance of specialized proteins which bind to target sites on DNA. For example, the primary function of a large class of DNA-binding protein machines is to turn gene transcription on and off, but other classes exist which help cells divide, repair their damaged DNA, and carry out other vital functions. The binding sites for these proteins are short, distributed throughout the genome and do not have unique nucleotide sequences, making their genome-wide prediction a challenging mathematical problem. Nonetheless, even in a crowded cellular environment proteins find their target sites quickly and efficiently, guided by favourable physical interactions between DNA sites and protein binding interfaces. Because protein-DNA interactions are ubiquitous in the cell, any progress in their understanding would be beneficial to multiple areas of molecular biology. Our workshop is designed to bring together researchers who study protein-DNA interactions from multiple points of view. On one end of the spectrum are the scientists who have developed sophisticated experimental and computational techniques for simultaneous identification of thousands of DNA binding sites on the genome-wide scale. On the other are the researchers who carry out detailed structural studies and atomistic simulations of protein-DNA complexes, with the goals of understanding fundamental biophysical aspects of protein-DNA recognition. A common goal from both approaches is designing molecules that can bind to any predetermined site on the genome, exerting their influence where it is needed in medical and biotechnology applications. By setting up this workshop we hope to bring together these groups of people, initiating an exchange of ideas and paving the way toward the next generation of techniques which aim to predict and make use of the rules of protein-DNA recognition.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).

BIRS Scientific Director, Nassif Ghoussoub
E-mail: birs-director[@]birs.ca
http://www.birs.ca/~nassif