Dieter Söll

Dieter Söll

Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry, Yale University


Dieter Söll earned his B.S. and Ph.D. from the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart in 1960 and 1962, respectively. Söll was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1962-1965, advised by Har Gobind Khorana. In 1965, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Enzyme Research. In 1967, Söll joined Yale University as Associate Professor in 1967. In 2006 he was named a Sterling Professor.

Research interests

Much of Söll’s work has been on the formation of aminoacyl-tRNA, an essential set of molecules in every cell ensuring the faithful translation of the genetic information. This has encompassed biochemical and genetic studies of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases which attach an amino acid directly to tRNA, of RNA modifying enzymes which furnish the amazing variety of modified nucleosides found in tRNA, and of the enzymes which convert glutamyl-tRNA to aminolevulinic acid, the first precursor in porphyrin biosynthesis. More recent work has led to the general realization that many organisms employ another process to make aminoacyl-tRNA by modifying amino acids incorrectly attached to tRNA. Analysis of these and other novel translational components, particularly in Archaea, provide new insights into the evolution of early translation systems.

Distinctions and Awards

Dieter Söll is a member of the National Academy of Science and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1972 and 1989, and a Humboldt Fellow in 2000.

Recent publications

  • Bryson DI, Fan C, Guo L-T, Miller C, Söll D & Liu DR (2017) Continuous directed evolution of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Nat. Chem. Biol., doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2474.

  • Suzuki T, Miller C, Guo L-T, Ho JML, Bryson DI, Wang Y-S, Liu DR & Söll D (2017) Crystal structures reveal an elusive functional domain of pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase. Nat. Chem. Biol., doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2497.

  • Mukai T, Lajoie MJ, Englert M & Söll, D (2017) Rewriting the Genetic Code. Annu. Rev. Micro- biol. 71, 557-577.

  • Yang A, Ha S, Ahn J, Kim R, Kim S, Lee Y, Kim J, Söll D, Lee H-Y & Park H-S (2016). A chemical biology route to site-specific authentic protein modifications. Science 354, 623-626.

  • Ho JML, Reynolds NM, Rivera K, Connolly M, Guo L-T, Ling J, Pappin D, Church GM & Söll D (2016) Efficient reassignment of a frequent serine codon in wildtype Escherichia coli. ACS Synth. Biol. 5, 163-171.