The Topology of Nucleic Acids: Research at the Interface of Low-Dimensional Topology, Polymer Physics and Molecular Biology (19w5226)


Chris Soteros (University of Saskatchewan)

Javier Arsuaga (University of California, Davis)


(Saitama University)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "The Topology of Nucleic Acids: Research at the Interface of Low-Dimensional Topology, Polymer Physics and Molecular Biology" workshop in Banff from March 24 to March 29, 2019.

The study of the geometry and topology of nucleic acids provides examples where deep mathematical methods such as those stemming from low-dimensional topology meet high-end experimental data and sophisticated computational techniques. The field of DNA topology has welcomed a diverse and highly interdisciplinary group of scientists, and although much progress has been made, there are still many open questions. In addition to revisiting problems related to DNA packing and the mechanisms of enzymes that change the topology of DNA, the workshop will focus on recent experimental results that shed light on the topology of nucleic acids in confinement (e.g. Hi-C), special nucleic acid structures (e.g. eccDNA and R-loops) and nucleic acids passing through nanopores and nanochannels. New experimental techniques have led to important questions in the study of DNA architecture in confined environments, as well as the role of DNA topology simplification mediated by enzymes. On the mathematical side, newly found knot and link invariants characterize crossing changes and band surgeries of knots and links. These advances in low-dimensional topology can be used to study enzymatic mechanisms. Also, recent studies using novel geometrical topology methods in low-dimensional topology give us new insight on the characterization of knots and links in confined regions.

This workshop will bring together topologists, experimentalists, biologists, biophysicists, physicists and applied mathematicians to work on developing new analytical and computational frameworks to understand the novel experimental data. Many open questions remain and we thus consider it key to include experimental studies of the structure of nucleic acids, along with the associated mathematical fields and new advances in polymer modeling in the workshop.

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).