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Atomic-resolution structure of a ribozyme yields insights into RNA catalysis and the origins of life

he second was that an exceptionally talented graduate student, Monika Martick, joined my research group."

The faster form includes an extended sequence of RNA building blocks that researchers had previously neglected to study. Martick and Scott set to work on this newly discovered form of the ribozyme, achieving a breakthrough in March after four years of experiments.

"Monika e-mailed me from the Stanford Synchrotron at 3 a.m. to show me the most beautiful electron density map I had ever seen," Scott said. "I was so amazed I probably didn't sleep for the next three weeks."

The new results explained the earlier discrepancies in a way that reconciled them with the previous 11 years of Scott's experiments, he said.

"Seldom do scientific research projects have this sort of fairy tale ending. It has been extremely rewarding as well as humbling," Scott said.

The RNA Center at UCSC was immensely helpful, providing support that was instrumental to the group's success, he added. Harry Noller, Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology and director of the RNA Center, has assembled a world-class team of investigators that includes two members of the National Academy of Sciences and two Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators.

"It is very inspiring to work with this collective concentration of talent," Scott said.


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Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
20-Jul-2006


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