May 4, 2010

Yale University Professor presents:The evolution of the genetic code

Posted in Adelaide, news, Research, science, seminar, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:33 am by cascius

Professor Dieter Söll from Yale University will be guest speaker at the  3rd Bob Symons lecture, ‘The evolution of the genetic code: a work in progress‘:

At the time of its elucidation the genetic code was suggested to be universal in all organisms, and the result of a ‘frozen accident’ unable to evolve further even if the current state were suboptimal. How do we see the genetic code today – 40 years after the familiar ‘alphabet’ with 20 amino acids was established?  Professor Soll, with over 470 scientific publications, has led the team which discovered selenocysteine and pyrrolysine, the 21st and 22nd amino acids which are directly inserted into growing polypeptides during translation. Based on the realization that protein plasticity is a feature of living cells, man-made expansion of the genetic code has begun by adding non-standard amino acids to the repertoire of the cell. Professor Soll will discuss these present evolutionary developments and how they underpin the creation of new organisms in the realm of synthetic biology.

Date/Time: Monday 24th May, 4pm
Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
School of Agriculture, Food & Wine Named Lecture Series: The Bob Symons Lecture 2010
Contact: Dr Amanda Able, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Business: +61 8 8303 7245

At the time of its elucidation the genetic code was suggested to be universal in all organisms, and the result of a ‘frozen accident’ unable to evolve further even if the current state were suboptimal. How do we see the genetic code today – 40 years after the familiar ‘alphabet’ with 20 amino acids was established? Of course, the ‘genetic code’ is the product of its interpretation by the translational machinery and it is only static as long as the components of this machinery do not evolve or are strictly conserved between organisms. Professor Soll, with over 470 scientific publications, has led the team which discovered selenocysteine and pyrrolysine, the 21st and 22nd amino acids which are directly inserted into growing polypeptides during translation. Based on the realization that protein plasticity is a feature of living cells, man-made expansion of the genetic code has begun by adding non-standard amino acids to the repertoire of the cell. Professor Soll will discuss these present evolutionary developments and how they underpin the creation of new organisms in the realm of synthetic biology.

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