Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Bert C Lampson

Committee Members

Christopher L. Pritchett Dhirendra R. Kumar


The reverse flow of genetic information can occur when a special DNA polymerase called Reverse Transcriptase (RT) copies the genetic information in an RNA molecule back into a complementary DNA. One type of RT encoding gene found in bacteria is called a retron element. Recent bacterial genome sequencing projects have revealed many examples of retron RT genes. This gene assignment is based on comparison with a few known retron RT proteins. However, RT proteins are highly diverse in their amino acid sequences, and thus the assigned identity of these RT proteins as retrons in genome databases is questionable. One way to prove that these postulated RTs are indeed from retron elements is to see if they can produce msDNA. Retron RTs are known to synthesize a structurally unique satellite DNA called msDNA in the bacterial cells that contain them. Based on GenBank database matches to a known protein, 7 proteins designated as retron RTs were tested for their ability to synthesize msDNA. Five of these retron RTs did show evidence of producing msDNA and are from very different bacterial hosts. The other 2 RT proteins did not show any evidence that they produce msDNA.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.