Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

category image Albany 2013
Conversation 18
June 11-15 2013
©Adenine Press (2012)

Imperfect RNA synthesis via model prebiotic reactions and consequences for functional RNAs

Contemporary life synthesizes RNA of homogeneous length and regioisomer composition via sophisticated enzymatic catalysis. Before such catalysts existed, RNA could have been produced only via simpler, nonenzymatic means, which model prebiotic systems have shown produce pools of products that are similar, but varied (e.g., in regioisomer composition). Recently, we have demonstrated that functional RNAs (ribozymes and aptamers) containing mixed-regioisomer backbones (i.e., 2′-5′ vs 3′-5′ linkages) retain function. This observation, coupled with the well-known fact that mixed-regioisomer RNAs exhibit depressed melting temperatures relative to native RNA, suggests that mixed-regioisomer backbones could actually be adaptive in an RNA (or pre-RNA) world. In this poster, we will show our recent work with functional RNAs representative of those produced in nonenzymatic polymerization reactions and their behaviors as catalysts and receptors.



    Engelhart, A.E., Powner, M.P, and Szostak, J.W. Functional RNAs exhibit tolerance for non-heritable 2′-5′ vs. 3′-5′ backbone heterogeneity. Accepted, Nat. Chem.

    Trevino, S. G., Zhang, N., Elenko, M. P., Luptak, A. & Szostak, J. W. Evolution of functional nucleic acids in the presence of nonheritable backbone heterogeneity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 13492-13497 (2011).

Aaron E. Engelhart
Matthew W. Powner
Jack W. Szostak

Dept. of Molecular Biology
Center for Computational and Integrative Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital
185 Cambridge St.
Boston, MA 02114