Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant William Wang.
2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: undeclared
Mentor: Andrew Fire, Pathology and Genetics

“Developing a Strand Bias Assay to Detect Extrachromosomal DNA”

DNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RNAPs) synthesize RNA from DNA and are critical enzymes for life. However, a few RNAPs have been demonstrated to exhibit an unusual ability to regenerate particular RNA templates directly from RNA, without any DNA involvement. This could potentially explain the multigenerational inheritance of RNA-based genetic information in cellular organisms, such as the propagation of certain RNA pathogens. To assess whether RNA replication by RNAPs is widespread in nature, William aims to employ an interdisciplinary approach to test the capability of RNAPs to regenerate RNA from RNA in a variety of biological contexts, to better understand this phenomenon and its effects.