2004 Annual Science Report
University of Colorado, Boulder Reporting | JUL 2003 – JUN 2004
Laboratory Studies of the Origins of an RNA World
We are continuing our investigation into the smallest number of RNA molecules that can yield active RNA structures, now using experimental rather than theoretical approaches. This work is not ready for a detailed report yet. However, other related work has yielded interesting results, now being prepared for publication. These related experiments determine the number of consecutive randomized nucleotides required to isolate the simplest isoleucine binding RNA by selection. Interestingly, this work shows that unexpectedly short RNA molecules are best, the binding activity being most easily isolated with 26 consecutive random nucleotides. This is much shorter than expected, and in particular, the fact that added nucleotides (to make longer starting sequences) is not helpful (but instead somewhat inhibitory) is particularly hard to explain. What seems to be implied is that there is an unanticipated potent difficulty inhibiting the search for RNA active sites in longer starting sequences.