The Geometry and Topology of Knotting and Entanglement in Proteins (17w5032)


Kenneth Millett (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Dorothy Buck (University of Bath)

(Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico)

(University of Saint Thomas)

(University of Warsaw)


The Casa Matemática Oaxaca (CMO) will host the "The Geometry and Topology of Knotting and Entanglement in Proteins " workshop from November 5th to November 10th, 2017.

Researchers from theoretical and experimental biology and biophysics and from mathematical geometry and topology will focus their efforts on understanding the consequences of the spatial structure of proteins and nucleic acids, such as DNA, on how living organisms work. For example, we know that some proteins contain knots while most others don’t. How and why did this happen? Was it an accidental mutation that persists (when it shouldn’t) or is there a reason why this knotting is needed. How do enzymes that change the spatial structure of nucleic acids work? How does one devise new enzymes to slow and stop various forms of cancer or alter their toxicity? These grand questions benefit from cross-disciplinary perspectives, theories, methods, and experience assembled in this workshop.

These researchers have assembled new mathematical insights coming from the mathematics of symplectic geometry, 3-dimensional geometric topology, the theories of knotting, linking, and other forms of entanglement. They bring new biological insights reflected in protein and enzyme experiments, the identification, classification, and connection of biological structures with tools such as the database KnotProt, and single molecule biophysical experiments. Together, these researchers bring a powerful array of knowledge and experience with which to tackle challenging questions. Their collaboration will lead to important progress on these most critical questions and give direction to future research.

The Casa Matemática Oaxaca (CMO) in Mexico, and the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) in Banff, are collaborative Canada-US-Mexico ventures that provide 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 in Banff 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). The research station in Oaxaca is funded by CONACYT.