An application of mathematics to the field of molecular biology is introduced. More specifically, how knot theory can be used to model DNA recombination is explained. DNA is a long, thin molecule found tightly packed inside the nucleus of a cell. As a result of the tight packing in such a confined space the DNA becomes tangled and knotted inside the cell. Thus, the molecules must be topologically manipulated in order for vital life processes to take place. Nature�s answer to the tangling problem is enzymes. Enzymes play an important roll in affecting the topology of DNA. One way an enzyme may act on DNA is by a process called site-specific recombination. This paper will discuss the tangle model for site-specific recombination.

Author Bio

Jenny Tompkins is a senior mathematics major at the University of Texas at Tyler. She started the research which lead to this paper during the summer of 2005 as a participant of the LSAMP undergraduate summer research program. In May of 2006 Jenny will graduate with a B.S. in mathematics. After graduation she plans to attend graduate school.