This just in from PhysOrg:
We had no idea that we would discover that transcription factors operated in this clustered way. The textbooks all suggested that single molecules were used to switch genes on and off, not these crazy nano footballs that we observed.”
The team believe the clustering process is due to an ingenious strategy of the cell to allow transcription factors to reach their target genes as quickly as possible.
Professor Leake said: “We found out that the size of these nano footballs is a remarkably close match to the gaps between DNA when it is scrunched up inside a cell. As the DNA inside a nucleus is really squeezed in, you get little gaps between separate strands of DNA which are like the mesh in a fishing net. The size of this mesh is really close to the size of the nano footballs we see.
“This means that nano footballs can roll along segments of DNA but then hop to another nearby segment. This allows the nano football to find the specific gene it controls much more quickly than if no nano hopping was possible. In other words, cells can respond as quickly as possible to signals from the outside, which is an enormous advantage in the fight for survival.”
Isn’t it amazing what random forces can bring about: optimization at the nanoscale! Yes, “evolution” is a work of genius!! And, of course, chemicals don’t ‘think.’