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On the Role of DNA Biomechanics in the Regulation of Gene Expression

Summary: On the Role of DNA Biomechanics
in the Regulation of Gene Expression
J. N. Milstein and J.-C. Meiners
Departments of Physics and Biophysics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109
DNA is traditionally seen as a linear sequence of instructions for cellular
functions that are expressed through biochemical processes. Cellular DNA,
however, is also organized as a complex hierarchical structure with a mosaic of
mechanical features, and a growing body of evidence is now emerging to imply
that these mechanical features are connected to genetic function. Mechanical
tension, for instance, which must be felt by DNA within the heavily constrained
and continually fluctuating cellular environment, can affect a number of
regulatory processes implicating a role for biomechanics in gene expression
complementary to that of biochemical regulation. In this article, we review
evidence for such mechanical pathways of genetic regulation.
I. Introduction
Critical to the coordinated functioning and development of cells is the ability to process
mechanical signals and stimuli. A failure to respond appropriately to mechanical stress can have
dire consequences that range from cellular apoptosis to malignant features such as cancer (Yu et
al., 2010). Cells are capable of detecting external mechanical stimulation by a variety of signal-
transduction mechanisms. Typical examples are the activation of mechanosensitive ion channels,


Source: Ahlers, Guenter - Department of Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara


Collections: Physics