Review Article | Published:

The chemical repertoire of natural ribozymes

Nature volume 418, pages 222228 (11 July 2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Although RNA is generally thought to be a passive genetic blueprint, some RNA molecules, called ribozymes, have intrinsic enzyme-like activity — they can catalyse chemical reactions in the complete absence of protein cofactors. In addition to the well-known small ribozymes that cleave phosphodiester bonds, we now know that RNA catalysts probably effect a number of key cellular reactions. This versatility has lent credence to the idea that RNA molecules may have been central to the early stages of life on Earth.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge D. Battle for extensive help with figure preparation, and V. Rath for comments on the manuscript.

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Affiliations

  1. *Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA (e-mail: doudna@uclink.berkeley.edu)

    • Jennifer A. Doudna
  2. †Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 4000 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA (e-mail: thomas.cech@colorado.edu)

    • Thomas R. Cech

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https://doi.org/10.1038/418222a

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