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Nov 05, 2019

Seminar - Landauer’s principle animates biological chemistry (Speaker: Professor Antoine Danchin)

Professor Antoine Danchin
Member of the French Academy of Sciences
Professor extraordinary, Institut Cochin, Université Paris-Descartes, Paris, France

Date: Tuesday, 5-November-2019
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Venue: Seminar Room 4, G/F, Laboratory Block, Faculty of Medicine Building
21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong​

Besides coding for ubiquitous structures, minimal genomes encode a wealth of functions that dissipate energy in an unanticipated way. For example, proteases are exothermic: why would they require ATP hydrolysis to perform their action? Why do ABC transporters need hydrolysis of two ATP molecules rather than only one? Why does RecA require ATP for functioning? Why does the maltose regulon activator require ATP hydrolysis to work properly? Analysis of these functions shows that they are meant to manage information under conditions when discrimination of substrates in a noisy background is preferred over a simple recognition process. This implies specific management of information as an authentic currency of reality. Biochemical analysis of these unexpected energy-dissipating proteins match with a general principle of information management proposed by Rolf Landauer in 1961 and only recently understood in physical sciences and rapidly gaining ground as a key principle of physics. Extending it to the biology realm shows that this allows cells to perform computations in an energy-efficient way that is vastly better than our contemporary computers, while providing cells with a behaviour that makes them look animate.