Mar 2023

Bioscience Seminar

Natural decoding versatility enriches gene expression: Where, when, how, why and can we manipulate it?

Professor John F. Atkins
14 Mar, 2023
04:00 PM – 05:00 PM

In contrast to early understanding, both the meaning of individual codons (genetic 'words') and the framing of the readout process can be modified by information in specific mRNAs or its encoded product. Such 'recoding' is distinct from context-independent departures in certain specialized niches, e.g. certain mitochondria, from the otherwise universal genetic code. Some occurrences of recoding serve regulatory or quality control purposes whereas others serve to yield an extra product from a single gene in a set ratio to the product of standard decoding. Recoding is prevalent in viral decoding, especially of RNA viruses, but is also frequent in mobile element gene expression. With a very few exceptions, recoding is much less common in chromosomal gene expression, though nevertheless important e.g. in the instance conserved from yeast to humans. Efforts to synthetically manipulate recoding for human benefit will be addressed.   

John F. Atkins was born in Ireland and obtained both his primary and Ph.D degrees in genetics from Trinity College Dublin. When type 2 restriction enzymes first became available in Cold Spring Harbor Lab. he helped develop a protein coding gene mapping technique and its application to adenovirus. Separately as a major company employee, he initiated a scheme for transofmation of yeast with an endogenous plasmid. However, starting from the time that decoding was thought to be invariably and immutably triplet, his main work in Ireland and the University of Utah has been on discoveries of several types of reprogramming during genetic readout -recoding. Identification of ribosomal access to new frame 'hidden' information has expanded knowledge of viral products. Regulatory frameshifting conserved from yeast to humans has been revealed together with identification of the enabling mechanistic signals including those required by the causative virus of Covid-19. Several types of dynamic redefinition of codón meaning, including a special case in neuronal cells, and in the decoding of one coding sequence where 132 UGA codons specify the 21st amino acid selenocysteine. JFA was the first Life sciences Director of Science Foundation Ireland and is a gold medallist of the Royal Irish Academy. 

Event Quick Information

14 Mar, 2023
04:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Building 2 - Level 5 - Room 5209