Universal Cold RNA Phase Transitions

Speaker

Felix Ritort

Affiliation

University of Barcelona

When
Place

CFM Auditorium

Host

David De Sancho

Life exists even in the extreme cold, yet we know little about how RNA functions at low temperatures. We have recently discovered unexpected RNA properties at near-to-zero temperatures, specifically a phase transition to a cold RNA phase that implies a hidden, altered RNA biochemistry. We have investigated cold RNA biochemistry using single-RNA force spectroscopy. At low temperatures, we find that sequence-independent contributions of RNA-water interactions outweigh sequence-dependent base pairing, leading to misfolding of fully complementary hairpins. RNA in the cold may have profound implications for understanding the cold adaptation of RNA biochemistry in present-day psychrophilic biota and may have shaped the evolution of a primordial RNA world.