TCBG Seminar

Balanced Branching in Transcription Termination

Professor Robert Laughlin
Department of Physics
Stanford University
Stanford, California

Monday, April 22, 2002
3:00 pm (CT)
3269 Beckman Institute


The theory of stochastic transcription termination based on free-energy competition requires two or more reaction rates to be delicately balanced over a wide range of physical conditions. A large body of work on glasses and large molecules suggests that this should be impossible in such a large system in the absence of a new organizing principle of matter. We review the experimental literature of termination and find no evidence for such a principle but many troubling inconsistencies, most notably anomalous memory effects. These suggest that termination has a deterministic component and may conceivably be not stochastic at all. We find that a key experiment by Wilson and von Hippel allegedly refuting deterministic termination was an incorrectly analyzed regulatory effect of Mg2+ binding.

Tea and coffee will be served in R3151 Beckman Institute at 2:15pm.

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