Thursday, April 19, 2012, 3pm
Innovation 223

Jayanth Banavar
University of Maryland

Geometry and Physics of Proteins

A framework is presented for understanding the common character of proteins.  It is shown that the notion of a tube of non-zero thickness allows one to bridge the conventional compact polymer phase with a novel phase employed by Nature to house biomolecular structures.  We suggest that the structures of folded proteins are selected based on geometrical considerations and are poised at the edge of compaction, thus accounting for their versatility and flexibility.  We present a geometric explanation for why helices and sheets are the building blocks of protein structures.