Eric J. Hayden

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The origins of life on Earth required the establishment of self-replicating chemical systems capable of maintaining and evolving biological information. In an RNA world, single self-replicating RNAs would have faced the extreme challenge of possessing a mutation rate low enough both to sustain their own information and to compete successfully against(More)
The Azoarcus group I ribozyme was broken into four fragments, 39-63 nucleotides long, that can self-assemble into covalently contiguous ribozymes via RNA-directed recombination events. The fragments have no activity individually yet can cooperate through base pairing and tertiary interactions to produce stable trans complexes at 48 degrees C. These(More)
Cryptic variation is caused by the robustness of phenotypes to mutations. Cryptic variation has no effect on phenotypes in a given genetic or environmental background, but it can have effects after mutations or environmental change. Because evolutionary adaptation by natural selection requires phenotypic variation, phenotypically revealed cryptic genetic(More)
RNA oligomers of length 40-60 nt can self-assemble into covalent versions of the Azoarcus group I intron ribozyme. This process requires a series of recombination reactions in which the internal guide sequence of a nascent catalytic complex makes specific interactions with a complement triplet, CAU, in the oligomers. However, if the CAU were mutated,(More)
Neurodegenerative diseases have a variety of different genes contributing to their underlying pathology. Unfortunately, for many of these diseases it is not clear how changes in gene expression affect pathology. Transcriptome analysis of neurodegenerative diseases using ribonucleic acid sequencing (RNA Seq) and real time quantitative polymerase chain(More)
Natural selection drives populations of individuals towards local peaks in a fitness landscape. These peaks are created by the interactions between individual mutations. Fitness landscapes may change as an environment changes. In a previous contribution, we discovered a variant of the Azoarcus group I ribozyme that represents a local peak in the RNA fitness(More)
RNA-directed recombination can be used to catalyze a disproportionation reaction among small RNA substrates to create new combinations of sequences. But the accommodation of secondary and tertiary structural constraints in the substrates by recombinase ribozymes has not been explored. Here, we show that the Azoarcus group I intron can recombine(More)
RNA and DNA oligonucleotides radiolabeled with (32)P or (33)P often require gel electrophoresis to remove undesired side and/or degradation products. Common ways to visualize these molecules after electrophoresis are by ultraviolet (UV) shadowing, which necessarily reduces the specific activity of the oligonucleotide, and by autoradiography using film,(More)
A canalized genotype is robust to environmental or genetic perturbations. Canalization is expected to result from stabilizing selection on a well-adapted phenotype. Decanalization, the loss of robustness, might follow periods of directional selection toward a new optimum. The evolutionary forces causing decanalization are still unknown, in part because it(More)