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Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich
Two PHD POSITIONS in Understanding the genetic code from affinities to transfer RNA motifs
Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich
LMU Munich is one of the leading research universities in Europe, with a more than 500-year-long tradition. The University is committed to the highest international standards of excellence.
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Published: 6 days ago
Application deadline: Unspecified
Location: Munich, Germany
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Two PHD POSITIONS in Understanding the genetic code from affinities to transfer RNA motifs

SFB/TRR Emergence of Life with cross-disciplinary experiments

Do you want to find out how life could have originated on early Earth? With this SFB, we bring together both young and experienced researchers to form a cross-disciplinary network for experimentally Origins of Life research in Munich. We will integrate the initial boundary conditions of early Earth from astronomy, geology, and chemistry for innovative lab experiments.

Our long-term aim is to reconstruct life-like molecular systems in geologically plausible conditions.

We have two open PhD positions for the project P11, a collaboration between Andres Jäschke (Heidelberg University) and Dieter Braun (LMU Munich). We will use a combination of microscale thermophoresis affinity assays and deep sequencing based reactivity assays to determine the physico-chemical foundation of the genetic code.

The genetic code links a three letter base code to the corresponding amino acid. It encodes proteins from genetic information and is a fundamental and essential mechanism of life.

The fingerprint of the genetic code suggests that its evolution was not a random accident. The coding scheme reserves more coding space for basic and possibly older amino acids. A fundamental question is how the triplet code was mapped to the amino acids at the Origin of Life. A logical strategy would include an RNA pocket capable of binding amino acids in a position where they can interact with a tRNA precursor, and these interactions are modulated by a tRNA base triplet to implement for the genetic code.

For an overview over the SFB/TRR Emergence of life, please check our preliminary website www.emergence-of-life.de. Please apply with a CV, publications, motivation letter and references to contact to either Andres Jäschke jaeschke@uni-hd.de for the biochemistry / biotechnology PhD position or Dieter Braun for the PhD in biophysics. For questions concerning the project, please enquire with dieter.braun@lmu.de

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Figure 1: Probing the basis of the genetic code. (a) The genetic code is non-random. (b) A pool of tRNA connects the triplet codes with the corresponding amino acids. (c) At the origin of life, triplet code and the matching amino acid could be correlated to the binding of two to three nucleotides with the amino acid, or more realistically with AMP-coupled amino acids, a conformation still used by modern proteins as intermediate. For example, an RNA aptamer for AMP (PDB: 1raw) will be used as a starting point.

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