Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jessica Vance Rose Hills

Mutating the Peptidyl Transferase Center for Genetic Code Expansion

The ribosome decodes mRNA into a sequence of amino acids which form all of life’s proteins. However these protein’s structures are limited by the properties of the set 20 amino acids. My project, as a part of the Center for Genetically Encoded Materials, aims to engineer the highly conserved ribosome to incorporate amino acids with different chemical scaffolding than the canonical set. My project is based on data from the modeling of a Cryogenic Electron Microscopy ribosome which suggests deleting a nucleotide (U2585) in the catalytic center of the ribosome, the peptidyl transferase center. This nucleotide blocks the protein synthesis of bulkier amino acids. Its deletion along with compensatory mutations will hopefully allow the ribosome to have the necessary space it needs to incorporate these new monomers. My project includes using techniques such as cloning, expression, Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography, Reverse Transcriptase-PCR and In Vitro Transcription-Translation, and potentially Cryo-EM. If successful, my project will allow for proteins with the same high fidelity sequence specificity of the wildtype ribosome but with novel protein structures.

Message To Sponsor

I would like to thank you for your generous donation. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful opportunity this grant will provide both me and the scientific community. Through my time in this lab I have have learned so much through being exposed to many new techniques and learning how to ask questions like a scientist. I am excited to continue my work!
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Mentor: Jamie Cate
Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills
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