Research Paper on the Evolutionary History of Reverse Transcriptase

Mentor profile
Project description

This project was focused on finding more information about the evolutionary history of reverse transcriptase which catalyzes the transcription DNA into RNA, and is found in viruses like HIV. 130 reverse transcriptase sequences were chosen to represent the larger array of diverse sequences that exist, such as telomerase enzymes, viral reverse transcriptase enzymes, and the retrotransposon reverse transcriptases. All of the sequences were aligned and compared using a phylogenetic tree which highlighted the similarities between the proteins. To investigate further, the telomerase groups, animal and plant telomerases were represented by the human telomerase and the Tetrahymena thermopylae telomerase, respectively. The structures of the two chosen telomerases were compared more closely according to orientation and conservation. Both methods of comparison were used to identify new information about the reverse transcriptase evolutionary process.

Project outcome

The paper is currently under review for publication in the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI).

Student background

10th grader from New Jersey.

Student review

I enjoyed and learned a lot from the program during the summer. My experience of writing a research paper was new to me, but very valuable, because I know that it is a skill that I will be using during my future academic career. The program aided in the process of deciding my future career as well.

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