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Our current understanding of how genes function is dominated by cellular biochemistry. DNA, however, is a polymer and as such displays a variety of biomechanical properties that may directly influence the regulation and expression of genes. I will discuss some of the experiments our group has conducted that show how cells could modulate the expression of particular genes by applying very small amounts of tension to the chromosome. These experiments were performed in vitro; however, in order to assess the true relevance of DNA mechanics to gene expression, we must observe similar results within actual living cells. Toward this end, I will also present a new technique that our group has devised for driving our work into the in vivo realm.
Josh Milstein is a post-doc at the University of Michigan. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2004.