OI Colloquium
Dr. Yingfu Li
 McMaster University, Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences
Title Lessons from Directed Molecular Evolution for Catalytic DNA
Date04 / 02 / 2008
Time 2:30pm (Coffee served at 2:15pm)
Abstract In comparison to protein and RNA, DNA is a simpler but more stable biopolymer. Although its cousin RNA has been shown to perform a stunning array of functions in contemporary biology, DNA has not been implicated for many active biological functions beyond its rather passive role as the storage house of genetic information. This overlook by Nature seems to suggest that DNA is not a polymer that can perform demanding functions such as molecular recognition and catalysis, key functions of proteins and RNA. Nevertheless, many research groups, including mine at McMaster University, have shown that DNA molecules with interesting functions can be selected from synthetic, extremely large random-sequence DNA pools using simple test-tube evolution techniques. In this presentation, I will discuss results from several experiments in which we have isolated a large array of DNA catalysts with ability to cleave RNA or perform DNA phosphorylation. Although our main motivation is to obtain functional DNA molecules for biomedical applications, the results from these directed molecular evolution experiments should be of interest to the members of Origins Institute. I will share some thoughts on relevance of our work to the origin of functions in (bio)macromolecules.

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