Medical Research

Scripps Research Institute

Peter Schultz, Angad Mehta
La Jolla, CA
December 2018

Almost five decades ago Crick, Orgel and others proposed that RNA might be able to support both genotype and phenotype.  Since then, the RNA world hypothesis has been extensively investigated and the function of RNA templates has been studied in terms of evolution, replication and catalysis.  Recently, investigators at the Scripps Research Institute engineered strains of E. coli in which a large fraction of 2’-deoxycytidine in the genome is substituted with the modified base 5-hydroxymethylcytidine.  Subsequently, they generated strains derived from these engineered bacteria, which show significant ribonucleotide content in their genomic templates.  In the proposed studies, the investigators will characterize the properties of these chimeric templates and corresponding strains to determine the circumstances under which E. coli can incorporate ribonucleotides into its genome.  They will also attempt to rationally engineer strains with similar high ribonucleotide content.  The team’s expectation is that such chimeras may provide deeper insights into the link between the RNA and DNA worlds.

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