EXPANDING THE RNA WORLD: IDENTIFYING, SELECTING, AND DESIGNING UNIQUELY STRUCTURED RNAs
The cosmos of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) has been thriving in recent years; so much so that researchers are discovering them much faster than they can uncover their functions. The subset of these RNAs that have been characterized have been noted to perform and regulate a plethora of remarkably diverse and essential biological functions. This diversity in function is accompanied by a large array of dynamic and elegantly folded 3-dimensional structures. In this collection of work, we will journey through the discovery of the first catalytic noncoding RNAs (ribozymes), explore a new method for identifying uniquely structured ribozymes, and detail the design of a technique to select for highly structured RNAs with a high affinity for an RNA binding partner. Although these topics vary widely within the field of RNA, this work strives to showcase the integral relationship between intricate macromolecular structures with their chemical and cellular functions.