Rajan Sankaranarayanan is Chief Scientist at CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad. He obtained his PhD from IISc, Bengaluru (1996) and was a postdoctoral research fellow at IGBMC, Strasbourg, France (1996–2002), before joining as a research group leader at CSIR-CCMB (2002). His group works on biophysical and biochemical approaches to elucidate the mechanistic basis of functioning of biomolecules and has made outstanding contributions in the area of proofreading during translation of the genetic code. He is a recipient of may prestigious awards including the Wellcome Trust International Senior Research Fellowship (2003), the Swarnajayanthi Fellowship of DST (2005–2006), and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (2011). He is an elected Fellow of all the three major science academies of the country (FASc in 2010).
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Transfer RNAs: Not merely adaptor molecules in protein synthesis
Francis Crick proposed for the first time, in an informal manuscript submitted to the RNA Tie Club in 1955, the ‘adaptor hypothesis’ which filled an important gap in the information flow from DNA to proteins. While the role of transfer RNAs as adaptor molecules dominated our thinking during most part of the last century, the post-genomic era has uncovered diverse and critical cellular roles played by them. Notable among these is the very recent identification of tRNA-derived fragments involved in sperm maturation and fertilization. In addition to these totally unexpected cellular functions, the speaker will discuss the central role played by tRNAs in maintaining translational fidelity and situations that compromise faithful translation of the genetic code. In this context, the speaker will present two aspects of his recent work that focus on tRNA gene expansion in higher eukaryotes and evolutionary selection pressures that act on the ‘discriminator code’!