The structure of DNA is not monotonous, but rather varies along its sequence, sometimes dramatically so. Such variation in structure leads to sequence-dependent variations in the fidelity of DNA copying and repair. That the probability of distinct classes of mutations varies along a DNA sequence has implications for evolutionary theory because selection acts on heritable variation when this variation affects fitness. Highly mutable sequences have, in fact, evolved in genome regions such as those encoding pathogen coats where increased diversity in a population favors survival. The fidelity of DNA replication and repair is both sequence-dependent and affected by the activities of multiple enzymes (which can be induced by environmental or cell-type specific factors).
Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly obvious that information is represented in DNA in forms that are not obvious when DNA is analyzed as if it actually were comprised of a sequence of letters. Often it is the conformation of DNA (or RNA) or the relationship among sequences that carries the information.
This conference will bring together a broad interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore the impact of increasing understanding of DNA structure, repair, replication, and organization on interrelated subjects ranging from evolution to dependence of the effect of mutagens on environmental and sequence context, to non-canonical forms of information representation in genomes.