Engineering 2 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064

Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are the most diverse and highly conserved class of biomolecules, mediating biological information flow from nucleic acids to protein sequences. Post-transcriptional modifications play a role in enhancing tRNA stability, a critical aspect for many archaea that thrive in conditions inhospitable to most extant life. While modifications to tRNAs are known for their role in fine-tuning structure, emerging evidence highlights their dynamic functions as integral regulators. The regulation of modifications in response to environmental and metabolic cues, which are pivotal for optimal translation and homeostasis, is evident across all domains. Yet, our understanding remains limited in the context of most extreme conditions and distinct archaeal clades. In my work, I aim to bridge these knowledge gaps by studying the dynamics of tRNA modification, together with their modification enzymes, and the network that regulates the extent of different tRNA modifications under various conditions. First, I will investigate the evolution of tRNA modification enzymes and their homologs through comparative genomic analyses. I will then utilize specialized sequencing techniques to further delve into the expression of these homologs and the modification profiles under extreme salinity and varied temperatures in halophiles. Additionally, I will examine the potential substrate range of novel enzyme candidates through simple genetics and biochemical assays, as well as how particular modifications contribute to fitness through survival assays. Together this work aims to create a rich repository of data on archaeal tRNA modification enzymes and the modification profiles of tRNAs. From this, I will establish a public database that includes a comprehensive mapping of homologs across multiple clades of archaea, with their functional annotations, providing unique insights into the evolution of tRNA modification enzymes and the adaptive strategies employed by extremophiles.

Event Host: Jesse Leavitt, Ph.D. Student, Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics

Advisor: Todd Lowe

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  • Muhammad Adeyemi Ajagbe

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