Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program



Swapan Jain

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Protein enzymes are the predominant catalytic molecules in modern day cellular systems.
However, it is widely believed that in the precellular world, RNA polymers used to be the
primary molecules for both catalysis and retention of genetic information. It’s a mystery how
these RNA polymers assembled and replicated during not only the RNA world but also the
transitionary period when polypeptides started to emerge. Watson-Crick base pairing and
hydrophobic stacking alone could not have sufficiently stabilized an assembly of nucleotides. It
is possible that small and flat intercalating molecules were used for the assembly of the
nucleotides, until more specific enzymes took over. For our studies, we have shown that
proflavine (a flat intercalator) can enhance the coupling efficiency of two short oligonucleotide
strands, catalyzed by a biological ligase enzyme

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