Examining 3D Structures of Chromosomes With Algorithms

We all know that earphones, cables and the like tend to get tangled quickly and then form annoying knots. However, although our chromosomes look the part – they’re long strings of genetic material – we don’t know do they or don’t they get tangled too. Now, German researchers have used mathematical algorithms to examine and study 3-D structures of experimental chromosomes, and they found that they too may be knotted.
“We used mathematical algorithms to examine 3D polymer models of chromosomes that colleagues from Cambridge University had generated from experimental data,” said Dr. Peter Virnau of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. “It has not previously been possible to determine whether chromosomes are knotted because there is insufficient knowledge of their exact three-dimensional structure. But using the chromosome models published by the specialists in Cambridge, we found that they were entangled.”
Previously, researchers from Cambridge University published 3D chromosome models. Now, the Mainz team extended them at both ends and then linked them together. This had to be done because the only way to mathematically analyze the models is if they’re closed. Once they linked them, they employed mathematical algorithms to examine the models, finding that the chromosomes too – just like regular cables for example – can get tangled.

Phys.org (https://phys.org/news/2017-10-physicists-mathematical-algorithms-experimental-d.html)


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