Single-molecule biophysics of transcriptional regulation.
My laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation using single-molecule techniques, such as the tethered particle motion technique (TPM), magnetic tweezers (MT) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) in collaboration with David Dunlap
in the Cell Biology Department
. In particular, our current projects include the study of: (i) epigenetic switches
based on the dynamic conformational changes induced in DNA by regulatory proteins which bind to multiple specific sites and facilitate cooperative interactions. To understand the mechanism at the basis of these switches, it is essential to characterize the nature of the different possible nucleoprotein complexes, as well as the kinetics and thermodynamics of complex formation and breakdown. (ii) DNA supercoiling as a regulatory element of transcription
. DNA supercoiling affects the binding of protein and their regulatory function. We study the behavior of wound and unwound DNA in different conditions, as well as the effect of supercoiled DNA on protein-induced DNA looping or wrapping. (iii) Molecular machines that carry out or regulate transcription
. We study topoisomerases as well as RNA polymerase function. (iv) DNA bending and torsional rigidity
. We study how variations in the bending rigidity of DNA due to various biochemical factors may affect its physiology. Our research involves also instrumentation and software development
, as well as theoretical modeling
. We formulate ad hoc computational and analytical models independently and in collaboration with theoretical physicists and mathematicians in order to validate, explain and interpret the experimental data.
Awards and Honors:
*co-Chair (2014) and Chair-elect (2015) of the "Nanoscale biophysics" subgroup of the biophysical Society.
*Member of the Biophysical Society Executive Board, 2011-2013
*Member of the Biophysical Society Program Committee, 2012-2014
*Editorial Board Member, Biophysical Journal, 7/1/08 - 6/30/14 (two terms)
*Moderator (in representation of the Biophysical Journal) of the Cell Press podcast "Single Molecule Biology" presented by Steve Block, National Lecturer at the 2012 Biophysical Society Meeting.