Jared W. Ellefson

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The key to the origins of life is the replication of information. Linear polymers such as nucleic acids that both carry information and can be replicated are currently what we consider to be the basis of living systems. However, these two properties are not necessarily coupled. The ability to mutate in a discrete or quantized way, without frequent(More)
Most existing directed evolution methods, both in vivo and in vitro, suffer from inadvertent selective pressures (i.e., altering organism fitness), resulting in the evolution of products with unintended or suboptimal function. To overcome these barriers, here we present compartmentalized partnered replication (CPR). In this approach, synthetic circuits are(More)
Bioengineering advances have made it possible to fundamentally alter the genetic codes of organisms. However, the evolutionary consequences of expanding an organism's genetic code with a noncanonical amino acid are poorly understood. Here we show that bacteriophages evolved on a host that incorporates 3-iodotyrosine at the amber stop codon acquire neutral(More)
T7 RNA polymerase is the foundation of synthetic biological circuitry both in vivo and in vitro due to its robust and specific control of transcription from its cognate promoter. Here we present the directed evolution of a panel of orthogonal T7 RNA polymerase:promoter pairs that each specifically recognizes a synthetic promoter. These newly described pairs(More)
Recent technological advances have allowed development of increasingly complex systems for in vitro evolution. Here, we describe an in vitro autogene composed of a self-amplifying T7 RNA polymerase system. Functional autogene templates in cell-free lysate produce T7 RNA polymerase, which amplifies the autogene genetic information through a positive feedback(More)
An in vitro selection method for ligand-responsive RNA sensors was developed that exploited strand displacement reactions. The RNA library was based on the thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) riboswitch, and RNA sequences capable of hybridizing to a target duplex DNA in a TPP regulated manner were identified. After three rounds of selection, RNA molecules that(More)
Engineered orthogonal translation systems have greatly enabled the expansion of the genetic code using noncanonical amino acids (NCAAs). However, the impact of NCAAs on organismal evolution remains unclear, in part because it is difficult to force the adoption of new genetic codes in organisms. By reengineering TEM-1 β-lactamase to be dependent on a NCAA,(More)
Most reverse transcriptase (RT) enzymes belong to a single protein family of ancient evolutionary origin. These polymerases are inherently error prone, owing to their lack of a proofreading (3'- 5' exonuclease) domain. To determine if the lack of proofreading is a historical coincidence or a functional limitation of reverse transcription, we attempted to(More)
This unit describes the process of gene shuffling, also known as sexual PCR. Gene shuffling is a facile method for the generation of sequence libraries containing the information from a family of related genes. Essentially, related genes are fragmented by DNase I digestion and reassembled by primer-less PCR. The resulting chimeric genes can then be screened(More)
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