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Judit E. Šponer & Jiří Šponer

10 October 2018
IOCB Prague
Judit E. Šponer & Jiří Šponer
Dr. Judit E. Šponer & Prof. Jiří Šponer (Institute of the Biophysics of the CAS, Brno, Czech Republic)
The fascinating world of nucleic acids
Date and time
10 October 2018, 3 p.m.
IOCB Prague, Lecture Hall (Building A, 2nd floor, A2.01)


Nucleic acids are perhaps the most significant biopolymers on this planet. They have played the decisive role in the spontaneous creation of life on the Earth four billion years ago. Since that, they continue in storing the genetic information in all forms of life and play key roles in the cellular regulatory processes. We will briefly overview three selected topics from our nucleic acids research.

How the first molecules capable of Darwinian evolution could have been created from “nothing” in a formamide-based scenario? The formamide pathway to the origin of life is a newly emerging "Universe-wide" chemical concept concurrent to the traditional “water-based” HCN scenario and can straightforwardly lead to biological molecules while avoiding the "water paradox”.

What is the role of dynamical recognition in protein-RNA complexes and how molecular dynamics simulations complement static data from X-ray crystallography and NMR?

How DNA guanine quadruplexes with only ~20-30 residues can achieve folding times from seconds to months, why they comprise the most versatile nucleic acids class that nature has ever evolved and what consequences could this have for their biochemical roles?

The most recent reviews

  • Šponer J.E. et al.: Emergence of the First Catalytic Oligonucleotides in a Formamide-Based Origin Scenario. Chemistry-A European Journal 2016, 22, 3572-3586
  • Šponer J.E. et al.: New Evolutionary Insights Into the Non-enzymatic Origin of RNA Oligomers. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA 2017, 8, e1400 
  • Šponer J. et al.: Folding of Guanine Quadruplex Molecules–funnel-like Mechanism or Kinetic Partitioning? An Overview from MD Simulation Studies. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects 2017, 1861, 1246–1263 
  • Šponer J. et al.: RNA Structural Dynamics as Captured by Molecular Simulations: A Comprehensive Overview: Chemical Reviews, 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00427
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