Genetics, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology (GBCB) Seminar
Speaker: Dr. Ron Breaker, Yale University, Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Title: Discovering Genetic Switches and Logic Gates Made of RNA
Abstract: Riboswitches are natural metabolite-binding RNAs that control gene expression in many bacterial species. They typically are found in the non-coding regions of certain messenger RNAs, and control gene expression by ligand-induced allosteric changes in RNA structure. The most highly conserved portion of riboswitches is the
metabolite-binding aptamer domain, whose sequence and structural features define each riboswitch class. Of the proven riboswitch classes, the shortest aptamer domain measures only 34 nucleotides while the largest requires approximately 200 nucleotides. Interestingly, even the smaller riboswitch domains appear to be capable of functioning as complex genetic switches. For example, we have identified a riboswitch that uses twligand-binding domains to bind two glycine molecules. Together, these domains cooperate to function as a more “digital” genetic switch, thus allowing the organism to control gene expression in response to small changes in the concentration of glycine. More recently, we have identified natural RNAs that use components of different riboswitch classes to function like two-input Boolean logic gates. Our findings support the view that RNA is a versatile medium for the construction of complex genetic elements.
Public welcome, please come! Refreshments 3:15-3:50 pm,
seminar starts promptly at 4pm.