Schedule May 15, 2018
Making a computer out of junk DNA -- Physics Department Colloquium
Josh Deutsch, UCSC

Genetic regulation is complex and poorly understood. Because of the abundance of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) in the cell, different species will promiscuously associate with each other, suggesting the possibility of "collective regulation. Here we hypothesize how a mechanism could have evolved allowing the ncRNA to perform computations equivalent to neural network models. The quantities analogous to the neural couplings are the equilibrium constants between different RNA species. The model requires that the creation rate for each species be an increasing function of the ratio of total to unbound RNA. Similar mechanisms have been found experimentally for ncRNA regulation. Has this simple and powerful mechanism been missed?

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