Exploring the Energy Landscape of RNA

Thursday, November 1, 2007 - 4:55pm - 5:25pm
EE/CS 3-180
Devarajan Thirumalai (University of Maryland)
Recent single molecule experiments and high-resolution temperature jump experiments show that the energy landscape of RNA is rugged. As a result, even the formation of a hairpin, exhibits all the signatures of folding (multiple pathways and complex kinetics) usually associated with self-assembly of ribozymes. I will describe the kinetics of hairpin formation, initiated by both temperature and force quench, using computations. The profound differences between the two methods will be illustrated in terms of the pathways to the native state. Analogies to folding of ribozymes will also be given.