Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

T. Ashton Cropp


The complexity of all biomolecules in existence today can be attributed to the variation of the amino acid repertoire. In nature, 20 canonical amino acids are translated to form these biomolecules, however, many of these amino acids have revealed posttranslational modifications (i.e. acetylation, methylation) after incorporation. Amino acids that exhibit PTM are known for their involvement in cellular processes such as DNA repair and DNA replication; these PTMs are commonly found on histones within the chromatin complex. Utilization of in vivo site-specific incorporation has recently reported functionality of post-translationally modified amino acids.1 xii Here we report the synthesis and in vivo site-specific incorporation of the histone PTM, 2-hydroxyisobutyrl lysine (Khib), with the pyrrolysyl tRNA/ RNA synthetase system. This translational machine can better serve to probe Khib for functional benefits. Additionally, this thesis focuses much of its attention on the development of unnatural amino acids (UAA) with optogenetic characteristics. These UAAs, if site-specifically incorporated, can be used to control enzymes and proteins through rapid light perturbation (365nm UV light). Furthermore, discussed is the synthesis of photo-caged threonine and photo-caged serine as potential substrates for the pyrrolysyl translational machinery.


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