The RNA World: A Look at Ribonuclease P RNA, Small Nucleolar RNA, 6S RNA, and the Small Ribosomal Subunit

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Title: The RNA World: A Look at Ribonuclease P RNA, Small Nucleolar RNA, 6S RNA, and the Small Ribosomal Subunit
Author: Ellis, Joseph
Advisors: Stu Maxwell, Committee Member
Bob Kelly, Committee Member
Amy Grunden, Committee Member
James Brown, Committee Chair
Abstract: The term RNA world was first coined in 1986 by W. Gilbert. It was largely based on the observation that RNA, not protein, was responsible for the most critical roles in Bacteria, Archaea and Eukaryotes. Although the RNA world means different things to different researchers Gerald Joyce and Leslie Orgel were able to surmise three common characteristic of all RNA World hypotheses: 1) Genetic continuity was dependent on the replication of RNA; 2) Base pairing was predicated on the Watson - Crick Model; 3) Genetically encoded proteins were not catalytic. An example of an ancient catalytic RNA observed in modern cells is ribonuclease P (RNase P). RNase P is responsible for the maturation of pre-tRNA by cleaving the 5' leader to form the mature tRNA and is widely believed to be a relic from the RNA world. Other functionally important RNAs are: small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) which generally catalyze sequence specific 2'-O- ribose methylation and pseudouridylation of ribosomal RNAs, 6S RNAs responsible for the modulation of RNA polymerase, and the small ribosomal subunit which plays a significant role in the synthesis of proteins and peptides. Recent research advances have shown all of these RNAs are important in medical and biotechnology applications. Here we describe our research efforts with these functionally important and essential RNAs: ribonuclease P RNA, small nucleolar RNA, 6S RNA, and the small ribosomal subunit. The cellular processes, database generation, bioinformatics approaches, and the application of RNA in biotechnology are detailed in this work.
Date: 2006-11-28
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Microbiology

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