Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

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

RNA Fitness Landscapes

The origin of life is believed to have progressed through an RNA World, in which RNA acted as both genetic material and functional molecules. Understanding early evolution requires systematic knowledge of the relationship between RNA sequence and functional activity. In particular, knowing the structure of the fitness landscape of RNA is critical to estimating the probability of the emergence of functional sequences and the role of historical accident during evolution. Much theoretical work has been devoted to fitness landscapes, but experimental maps have been relatively limited. We use in vitro selection on a pool of short RNA sequences that nearly saturates sequence space to reconstruct the form of a comprehensive fitness landscape. We also study mutations during non-enzymatic polymerization to understand how early RNA replicators would 'move' in sequence space.

Irene A. Chen

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106

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