The Section on Macromolecular Recognition and Assembly, headed by Donald Rau, focuses on the nature of forces, structure, and dynamics of biologically important assemblies. The group showed that measured forces differ from those predicted by current theories and interpreted the observed forces to indicate the dominant contribution of water-structuring energetics. The observation that interacting macromolecules tenaciously retain their hydration waters unless the surfaces are complementary has profound implications for recognition reactions. To investigate the role of water in binding, the group measures and correlates changes in binding energies and hydration that accompany recognition reactions of biologically important macromolecules, particularly sequence-specific DNA-protein complexes.
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