Modeling Superhelical DNA: Recent Analytical and Dynamical Approaches

During the past year, a variety of diverse and complementary approaches have been presented for modeling superhelical DNA, offering new physical and biological insights into fundamental functional processes of DNA. Analytical approaches have probed deeper into the effects of entropy and thermal fluctuations on DNA structure and on various topological constraints induced by DNA-binding proteins. In tandem, new kinetic approaches - by molecular, Langevin, and Brownian dynamics, as well as extensions of elastic-rod theory - have begun to offer dynamic information associated with supercoiling. Such dynamic approaches, along with other equilibrium studies, are refining the basic elastic-rod and polymer framework and incorporating more realistic treatments of salt and sequence-specific features. These collective advances in modeling large DNA molecules, in concert with technological innovations are pointing to an exciting interplay between theory and experiment on the horizon. 

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