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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

Michelle Wang Discovers Measurements of Torque in the Supercoiling of DNA

Prof Michelle Wang was published online in the journal Science on June 27 with Jie Mu, a postdoctoral associate, and Lu Bai, former graduate student here at Cornell but now is an assistant professor at Penn State, for their findings in the measurement of the tiny torques in the supercoiling of DNA. Supercoiling is caused by enzymes that travel along DNA’s helical groove that exert force and torque as they move along.

Wang was able to measure torque generated by the motor protein, E. coli RNA polymerase (RNAP) by using an angular optical trap (AOT). This technique may enable any future research in the supercoiling associated with other motor proteins or it may lead to the new findings of other gene transcription processes.

This study is titled “Transcription Under Torsion” and is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Mesical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Read more in the Chronicle and the full article in Science.

DNA Traps