Sherlyn Contreras
Contreras, Sherlyn
Year: 2022
Faculty Advisor: Stephane Bentolila

“Functional characterization of ORRM encoding genes in Arabidopsis thaliana”

Project Summary:

Organisms engage in a process called RNA editing, in where genetic information is modified post-transcriptionally on RNA intermediates (Hammani and Giege 2014). RNA editing transforms Cytosines to Uracils in a process that requires a complex editosome with multiple subcomponents (Sun et al. 2016). Organelle RNA Recognition Motif-containing (ORRM) protein factors has a role in recruiting these editosomes. There is a subset of ORRM protein factors that have not been characterized for their effects on RNA editing (Shi et al. 2015).  In this project, the ORRM genes were assayed to study their effect on C to U editing. Eleven groups of mutants were phenotype and genotyped through PCR. Subsequently, RNA extraction and sequencing was done to quantify if the homozygous mutants showed a decrease in C to U editing. The implications of understanding the makeup of these editosome complexes could potentially help develop genetic engineering technology for RNAs in plants and further improve the biotechnology industry.


My Experience:

This summer I learned how to extract DNA and RNA from leaf tissues and genotype plants through PCR and gel electrophoresis. Through this lab work and mentorship from Dr. Stephane Benotilia, I have gained great insight in RNA editing including understanding the multifarious nature of editosome complexes and the importance of Cytosine to Uracil editing. This research internship has allowed me to become more confident in my abilities as a researcher and leader. Additionally, this summer I cultivated friendships with people that share my passion for plant science and research. In the fall I will begin my honor’s thesis leading my own plant research and I will apply to PhD programs with an interest in plant genetics.