The evolution of RNA and the actin protein family
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In my dissertation I have broadly studied the evolution of RNA as well as the phylogenetic history of the actin protein family. In the first chapter I examined how various evolutionary processes interact at high mutation rates, which led to simple prediction based on the strength of selection. In the second chapter, I tested mRNA secondary structure stability at the beginning of genes as a way of identifying whether putative genes might be functional or not. Finally, I reconstructed the phylogenetic history of the actin protein family in vertebrates, revealing that a novel isoform is actively evolving in contrast to the remaining protein isoforms.