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Study of DNA and RNA structures with Matrix Theory


Many aspects of DNA and RNA biological functions depend on their peculiar three-dimensional structure. The complete prediction of the actual structure from their base sequence is a challenging open problem. Recently Random Matrix Theory (RMT) has been proposed as the key for a possible solution. Objectives:
-Extensive application of all well-known RMT techniques to the study, modelling, and description of the 3D- structure of RNA and DNA. -Designing and production of new numerical algorithms and computer programs for the prediction of 3D- structures of RNA and DNA, given the sequence of bases.
-Monte Carlo simulations of the matrix models for RNA and DNA. Study of thermodynamically properties, phase diagram and possible existence of glassy phases.
-Information theoretic issues and applications to combinatorial optimisation problems. Method: RMT is a classical tool of theoretical physics, which provides a natural mathematical framework for studying the interplay between fluctuating geometrical objects and their topological classification. Hence it can be used for a systematic classification and description of the complex folding of biopolymer structures according to their topological character. It gives control over their thermodynamically properties, and it leads to a number of new approximation schemes and hence to computer programs of new concepts for the prediction of the structural properties of DNA and RNA.
The work will be both theoretical and numerical. Relevance:
-The highly innovative profile of this project,
-the excellence of the host institution on RMT and applications to biophysics,
-the profound experience of the applicant with RMT and the possibility to widen his knowledge in bimolecular physics by means of a high-level Research Training. All the above fits very well with the goals of the Specific and Work Programmes. Moreover this project is relevant for several main objectives of the thematic priorities of FP6.

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