Honors Projects

SINEs: Structural Characteristics that aid in the Mobilization from the Nucleus to the Ribosome

Madison Baltzly


From DNA that researchers once believed to be useless to being influential in evolutionary variation and cellular process, Short and Long Interspersed Nuclear elements (SINEs and LINEs respectively) have helped shape the genetic makeup of most mammals by essentially hijacking host cellular processes to amplify their existence within the genome. To be a genomic parasite, these SINEs and LINEs must be able to amplify enough within the genome without destroying the DNA and furthermore the mammal that carries them. In turn, the DNA must actively attempt to suppress the parasitic DNA. This arms race between genomic parasites and genomic DNA helped to give rise to multiple variations of retrotransposons. This research requires an interdisciplinary approach between various biological fields and biochemistry to answer questions of: i.) what structural variation in SINE retroelements aid in the mobilization from the nucleus to the ribosome; ii.) will these structural variations assist in increased or decreased retrotransposition; and iii.) seeks to assess tRNA-derived SINE activities from the cytoplasm to the ribosome by measuring the retrotransposition capacity of individual SINE structures.