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Coarse-Grained Modeling of the compaction of bacterial DNA

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The volume occupied by unconstrained bacterial DNA in physiological saline solutions exceeds 1000 times the volume of a cell. Still, DNA is confined to a well defined region of the cell called the nucleoid, which occupies only a small fraction of the cell volume. This is rather puzzling, because bacterial DNA is not delimited by a membrane, in sharp contrast with the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. Although this question has been debated for several decades, there is still no general agreement on the mechanism leading to the compaction of the DNA and the formation of the nucleoid.

The work will consist in developing coarse-grained models of the cytoplasm to help discriminate between the various mechanisms that have been proposed to rationalize the compaction of the bacterial DNA inside the nucleoid. Since we have recently suggested that demixing between DNA and ribosomes may drive compaction, special attention will be paid to modeling adequately DNA, RNA, the ribosomes, as well as their respective interactions. It is hoped that a detailed understanding of the compaction and of the recent microscopy experiments with sub-wavelength resolution will emerge from the simulations.

Contact : Marc Joyeux

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Phone : 04 76 51 47 51

Bacterial compaction