Evolution and Emergence of Functional RNA: Mapping the Fitness Landscape
Seminar | December 6 | 12-1 p.m. | 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building
Irene Chen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara
Evolutionary outcomes are difficult, if not impossible, to predict, largely because the effect of any possible mutation is unknown. In other words, understanding evolution requires detailed knowledge of the relationship between sequence and activity, or the fitness landscape. Inspired by the RNA World of early life, in which RNA carried information and also performed catalytic functions, we study the emergence and evolution of functional RNAs. I will describe our experimental efforts to map complete fitness landscapes for functional RNA and the implications for optimizing ribozyme activity and replaying the tape of life.