Chemistry of Life

Molecular genetics, biochemistry


Some RNAs have catalytic activity and are termed ribozymes. Group I and Group II ribozymes are derived from naturally occurring Group I and Group II introns, respectively. These introns are found in the genes of a variety of lower eukaryotes and prokaryotes. They differ fundamentally from spliceosomal introns since Group I and Group II introns self-splice from the precursor RNA independent of the spliceosome. The intron adopts the catalytic structure that is capable of cleaving RNA splice sites and ligating the flanking exons together. In addition to self-splicing from RNA precursors, some Group II introns are able to reverse-splice into DNA.

Ribozyme Enzymology: "Ribozymes are antisense RNA molecules that have catalytic activity. They function by binding to the target RNA moiety through Watson-Crick base pairing and inactivate it by cleaving the phosphodiester backbone at a specific cutting site.

Five classes of ribozymes have been described based on their unique characters in the sequences as well as three-dimensional structures (Bunnell,1997). They are denoted as (1) the Tetrahymena group I intron, (2) RNase P, (3) the hammerhead ribozyme, (4) the hairpin ribozyme, and (5) the hepatitis delta virus ribozyme. They may catalyze self-cleavage (intramolecular or 'in-cis' catalysis) as well as the cleavage of external substrates (intermolecular or 'in-trans' catalysis) (Ohkawa, 1995). "

Ribosomes are large intracellular aggregates attached to the rough endoplasmic reticulum. They comprise several RNAs and scores of proteins, and function as ribozymes.

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