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Case studies in quantitative biology : biochemistry on a leash and a single-molecule Hershey-Chase experiment

Citation

Van Valen, David Ashley (2011) Case studies in quantitative biology : biochemistry on a leash and a single-molecule Hershey-Chase experiment. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:05112011-144451576

Abstract

The last 50 years of biological research has seen a marked increase in the amount of quantitative data that describes living systems. This wealth of data provides a unique opportunity to recast the pictorial level descriptions of biological processes in the language of mathematics, with the hope that such an undertaking will lead to deeper insights into the behavior of living systems. To achieve this end, we have undertaken three case studies in physical biology. In the first case study, we used statistical mechanics and polymer physics to construct a simple model that describes how flexible chains of amino acids, referred to as tethers, influence the information processing properties of signaling proteins. In the second case study, we studied the DNA ejection process of phage lambda in vitro. In particular, we used bulk and single-molecule methods to study the control parameters that govern the force and kinematics of the ejection process in vitro. In the last case study, we studied the DNA ejection process of phage lambda in vivo. We developed an assay that allows real-time monitoring of DNA ejection in vivo at the single-molecule level. We also developed a parallel system that allows the simultaneous visualization of both phage capsids and phage DNA at the single-cell level, constituting a true single-molecule Hershey-Chase experiment. The work described in this thesis outlines new tools, both in theory and experiment, that can be used to study biological systems as well as a paradigm that can be employed to mathematicize the cartoons of biology.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biochemistry on a Leash, Bacteriophage, DNA Ejection, Hershey-Chase experiment
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Phillips, Robert B.
Thesis Committee:
  • Fraser, Scott E.
  • Refael, Gil
  • Roukes, Michael Lee
  • Phillips, Robert B. (chair)
Defense Date:25 April 2011
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Yaser Abu-Mostafa Hertz FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
NIH Medical Scientist Training Program FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
NIH Director's Pioneer AwardUNSPECIFIED
NSF0758343
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05112011-144451576
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:05112011-144451576
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6383
Collection:CaltechTHESIS
Deposited By: David Van Valen
Deposited On:31 May 2011 15:45
Last Modified:26 Dec 2012 04:35

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