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J Biol Chem. 1995 Oct 27;270(43):25702-8.

Chemical modification of hammerhead ribozymes. Catalytic activity and nuclease resistance.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., Boulder, Colorado 80301, USA.


A systematic study of selectively modified, 36-mer hammerhead ribozymes has resulted in the identification of a generic, catalytically active and nuclease stable ribozyme motif containing 5 ribose residues, 29-30 2'-O-Me nucleotides, 1-2 other 2'-modified nucleotides at positions U4 and U7, and a 3'-3'-linked nucleotide "cap." Eight 2'-modified uridine residues were introduced at positions U4 and U7. From the resulting set of ribozymes, several have almost wild-type catalytic activity and significantly improved stability. Specifically, ribozymes containing 2'-NH2 substitutions at U4 and U7, or 2'-C-allyl substitutions at U4, retain most of their catalytic activity when compared to the all-RNA parent. Their serum half-lives were 5-8 h in a variety of biological fluids, including human serum, while the all-RNA parent ribozyme exhibits a stability half-life of only approximately 0.1 min. The addition of a 3'-3'-linked nucleotide "cap" (inverted T) did not affect catalysis but increased the serum half-lives of these two ribozymes to > 260 h at nanomolar concentrations. This represents an overall increase in stability/activity of 53,000-80,000-fold compared to the all-RNA parent ribozyme.

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