Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday Lecture Series - The Double Life of RNA - Lecture Four - Life at the End of the Chromosome by Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D. Tape 4 of 4.
Since the 1960's, the role of RNA (ribonucleic acid) in transmitting information to produce DNA-encoded proteins has been well known. More recently, however, scientists have discovered that RNA can be much more than a passive transmitter of genetic information. RNA can also act as an enzyme that directly participates in cellular biochemistry.
In these four lectures, HHMI President and Nobel laureate Thomas R. Cech explains the role of RNA in cellular biology. He explores why RNS's ability both to store genetic information and to catalyze biochemical reactions lends plausibility to the theory that RNA had a central role in the origin of life.
Dr, Cech also discusses other implications of RNA catalysis. For example, RNA enzymes (ribozymes) can potentially provide new therapeutic agents. Since ribozymes can efficiently split and thereby destroy viral RNA under controlled laboratory conditions, it is plausible that ribozymes might be able to inactivate virsuses in people and other animals.