Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > The Poverty of the Instructed Organism > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

The “athletics” of protein-DNA binding

CLASSICALLY...TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS WERE THOUGHT to “read” DNA as a straightforward linear code, bind to appropriately encoded sequences, and more or less directly induce (or repress) the transcription of nearby genes. But now researchers cite a mind-numbing variety of methods by which plastic transcription factors interact with plastic stretches of DNA, producing endless nuances of expression...They often find their relevant targets by entering into a sculptural embrace whereby they re-shape the local DNA and in turn are re-shaped by it and by many cooperating proteins in a performance of mutual gesture and response that defines the functional outcome. It is not so much a matter of code as of the compatibility of “athletically” interacting forms.

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