The Ribosome: Structure, Function & Evolution: An Astrobiology All-access Event

April 1-2, 2011

A two-day symposium using NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) remote communications tools, on "The Ribosome: Structure, Function & Evolution," will be held on April 1-2, 2011. Real-time participation requires only an internet connection and is available to interested scientists from around the world. A chat area will be hosted by graduate students and post docs of Georgia Tech's Ribo Evo Center, to facilitate remote interaction during the symposium. More details, including connection and registration information, is available at the meeting website given below.

The 2011 Suddath Symposium on the Ribosome at Georgia Tech brings together researchers who are exploring various aspects of ribosome structure and function. The ribosome is a molecular machine that is responsible for protein synthesis in all living cells. This indispensable component of life, which contains both RNA and proteins, can be viewed as a molecular fossil. That is, the comparison of ribosomal RNA and proteins from distantly related organisms suggests that the origins and evolution of protein synthesis remain imprinted in present day ribosomes, providing a "rewindable" molecular recording of early evolution that appears to go all the way back to the origin of life.

Because the ribosome is central to the biochemistry of all life, it is a major target for drug development. For example, the mode of action of many antibiotics is to inhibit translation or cause bacterial ribosome to make mistakes during protein synthesis. Due to differences between bacterial and eukaryotic ribosomes, the result of billions of years of divergent evolution, drugs can be highly effective against bacterial ribosomes without causing appreciable side effects in human cells. Thus, studies of ribosome structure, function and evolution have scientific implications ranging from understanding the origin and early evolution of life to the development of novel pharmaceuticals.

For more information and participation instructions, visit: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/ribosfe

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