Prix des Trois Physiciens : The Single Molecule Game

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Vincent Croquette (LPS, ENS) — November 24, 2016 — Award ceremony and special seminar by the 2016 recipient of the "Prix des Trois Physiciens"


Abstract :
We shall recall how single DNA molecules can be manipulated using small magnets and their extension measured on an optical microscope. We will explain how achieving a resolution of a few nanometers on this measurement has opened new possibilities. In particular, we will illustrate how this method can be used to monitor the action of molecular motors moving along DNA molecules in real-time. And how we can analyze some fundamental properties of DNA such as hybridization, i.e. the pairing of the complementary strands. We will show that this technique provides a means to obtain information on the sequence of a single molecule and in particular on the chemical modifications of the DNA bases which determine the fate of cells and constitute the so called epigenetic information.

This is joint work with S. Raj, S. Hodeib, T. Vieille, J. Ouellet, F. Hamouri, FX. Lyonnet du Moutier, B. Ducos, JF. Allemand, and D. Bensimon.

Biography :
Vincent Croquette started his career at CEA-Saclay where he worked on dissipative structures driven out of equilibrium. Using very well controlled experiments, he revealed various mechanisms of instabilities and transitions toward chaos. After joining the Laboratoire de Physique Statistique, he gradually turned to biophysics. He was one of the initiators of this field of research at the Department of Physics of ENS. He became a world renowned expert in the manipulation of single DNA molecules. The original experimental techniques he has developed have made it possible to make significant progress on the understanding of various phenomena of biological interest such as, for example, the mechanism of collaboration between different enzymes during the duplication of DNA.

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