A team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory led by structural biologist Karissa Sanbomatsu has created the world's largest model of the human DNA gene. The model is made up of more than one billion atoms and could help revolutionize the understanding of how genes work.
Modeling genes at the atomic level is the first step to understanding how DNA expands and contracts, which affects how genes turn on / off. For such a large-scale simulation, scientists used the Trinity supercomputer in Los Alamos, which ranks sixth in the world in terms of speed.
DNA is the basis of all living things and contains genes that encode the structures and activities of the human body. The scale of DNA is evidenced by the fact that if you "untangle" it, you get a filamentous structure that can girdle the Earth 2.5 million times.
A long, strand-like DNA molecule is coiled around a network of tiny coils that spin to turn genes on and off. The branch of science dealing with the study of these processes is called epigenetics. In particular, she studies the process of fetal development in the womb and the formation of hereditary diseases.
If the DNA is compact, genes are turned off. Why this is happening, scientists are not yet clear. Apparently, to find out the reasons, you will need a computer of even greater power - Exascale. With its help, scientists hope to create a model of the entire human genome and understand the principle of "turning on / off" genes.
Simulations of this kind are based on experiments involving capture of chromatin conformation, cryoelectron microscopy and X-ray crystallography, as well as a number of sophisticated computer simulation algorithms.