CRM: Centro De Giorgi
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DNA Knots

15 June 2011 - 16 June 2011

This event is part of an intensive research period:
Knots and Applications.


Cellular DNA is a long, thread-like molecule with remarkably complex topology. Enzymes that control and manipulate the geometry and topology of cellular DNA perform many important cellular processes (including segregation of daughter chromosomes, gene regulation, DNA repair, and generation of antibody diversity). Some enzymes pass DNA through itself via enzyme-bridged transient breaks in the DNA; other enzymes break the DNA apart and reconnect it to different ends. DNA knots can encode important information about molecular biology in various ways.

In the topological approach to enzymology, circular DNA is incubated with an enzyme, producing an enzyme signature in the form of DNA knots and links. By observing the changes in DNA geometry (supercoiling) and topology (knotting and linking) due to enzyme action, the enzyme binding and mechanism can often be characterized. Viruses pack DNA very tightly in capsids; upon release and circularization in the globular phase, the DNA knots produced can inform about the packing geometry. DNA is also packed very tightly in eukaryotic chromosomes, and some DNA knotting and linking may be present in the chromosome organization. This workshop will have talks discussing various aspects of DNA knotting and the relationship of knotting to biological understanding.

This event is part of the 3-month intensive research period program on “Knots and Applications”, that takes place at the Centro di Ricerca Matematica "Ennio De Giorgi" of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy, and that is organised in collaboration with INdAM.

Plenary Speakers

Javier Arsuaga, SFSU, San Francisco, USA
Dorothy Buck, Imperial College London, UK
Isabel Darcy, U. Iowa, USA
Cristian Micheletti, SISSA, Trieste, IT
Andrzej Stasiak, U. Lausanne, CH
De Witt Sumners, Florida State U., USA
Mariel Vazquez*, SFSU, San Francisco, USA

Short Talks

Marco Baiesi*, U. Padova, IT
Mauro Mauricio, Imperial College London, UK
Angelo Rosa*, IIT, Genova, IT
Luca Tubiana, SISSA, Trieste, IT
Karin Valencia, Imperial College London, UK

Thematic Workshop Conveners

Dorothy Buck
Cristian Micheletti
De Witt Sumners

* To be confirmed


All prospective participants and attendees are kindly requested to register here before 10 June, 2011.

Financial Support

Prospective participants should seek grant/university support towards travel expenses from local sources. Limited funding towards participant local expenses may be provided by CRM and INdAM upon application.

Request of Financial Support

Qualified junior participants and prospective attendees are invited to submit their request of financial support towards local expenses by sending their CV and list of publications to, before 13 March, 2011.


Publicize this Event: Please notify this event in your Department/Research Unit by downloading and posting the attached poster; please click here to download it.


All lectures, oral contributions and posters will be held in the lecture room Aula Dini (via del Castelletto 11 Pisa) that is at only 2 minutes walk from Centro De Giorgi.

Practical information

How to Get There: From outside Pisa to CRM, read the instructions here

Shopping times and holidays

Typical shopping times are 8:30-12:30 and 15:30-19:30. National holidays: 1 May, 2 June, 17 June