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Bojan ZAGROVIC, University of Vienna

RNA-protein interactions and the structure of the genetic code
When Nov 16, 2018
from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Contact Name Equipe Auboeuf - Salle des Thèses
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The relationship between mRNA and protein sequences as embodied in the universal genetic code is a cornerstone of modern-day molecular biology. In this presentation, I will provide evidence supporting a novel claim that the genetic code can actually be seen as a Rosetta stone for understanding RNA-protein interactions in general. Conversely, I will defend a claim that RNA-protein interactions could have been an important driving force behind the origin of the genetic code. Specifically, we have recently revealed a robust, statistically significant matching between the composition of mRNA coding sequences and the nucleobase-binding preferences of their cognate protein sequences. For example, purine-density profiles of mRNA sequences mirror the guanine-affinity profiles of their cognate protein sequences with quantitative accuracy (median Pearson correlation coefficient |R| = 0.80 across the entire human proteome). Overall, our results support as well as redefine the stereochemical hypothesis concerning the origin of the genetic code, the idea that it evolved from direct interactions between amino acids and the appropriate bases. Moreover, our findings support the possibility of direct, complementary, co-aligned interactions between mRNAs and their cognate proteins even in present-day cells, especially if both are unstructured, with implications extending to different facets of nucleic-acid/protein biology.



1. Polyansky AA & Zagrovic B (2013) “Evidence of direct complementary interactions between messenger RNAs and their cognate proteins”, Nucleic Acids Research, 41(18), 8434-8443.

2. Polyansky AA, Hlevnjak M & Zagrovic B (2013) “Analog encoding of physicochemical properties of proteins in their cognate messenger RNAs”, Nature Communications, 4, 2784, 1-11.

3. Bartonek L & Zagrovic B (2017) “mRNA/protein sequence complementarity and its determinants: The impact of affinity scales”, PLOS Computational Biology, 13(7), e1005648.

4. Zagrovic B, Bartonek L, Polyansky AA (2018) “RNA-protein interactions in an unstructured context”, FEBS Letters, 592(17), 2901-2916


Contact : Didier Auboeuf