Ribozyme rolling circle amplification

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Emil Laust Kristoffersen


DKK 425,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


This project aims to develop new scientific techniques in the field of RNA-based catalysis focusing on RNA-catalysed self-copying. The developed techniques have the potential to, in combination, lead to invention of the world's first "man made" RNA-based self-copying systems. Following the RNA-world hypothesis, RNA-based self-copying systems are believed to have been a requirement for the origin of life.


The origin of life marks an important transition not the least for us humans that are a result of it. Today, it is believed that our biology was preceded by a simpler version in which the ancestors to modern life used RNA instead of proteins and DNA. A cornerstone in this RNA world hypothesis is the appearance of a RNA-based system with the ability to copy itself. Such self-copying systems would have been able to optimise themselves through repeating self-copying cycles and through this process ignite the transition towards Darwinian evolution, which is a prerequisite for development of the life, as we know it. Understanding of the origin of life might lead to a better understanding of life in general.


In-depth investigations of the function of existing RNA-catalysed processes using advanced biochemical and biophysical research methods will be combined with techniques for directing the evolution of RNA molecules towards novel catalytic abilities in order to explore RNA-catalysed self-copying. In particular, we plan to develop a catalytic RNA molecule that can perform a process called rolling circle replication, where a circular RNA template is replicated in a continuous manner. This process is known from nature e.g. in replication of some RNA virus genomes and might provide a simple way to assist self-copying.

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