Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Acc Chem Res. 2008 Aug;41(8):1027-35. doi: 10.1021/ar800050c. Epub 2008 Jul 25.

Catalytic strategies of self-cleaving ribozymes.

Author information

Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, 260 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


[Structure: see text]. Five naturally occurring nucleolytic ribozymes have been identified: the hammerhead, hairpin, glmS, hepatitis delta virus (HDV), and Varkud satellite (VS) ribozymes. All of these RNA enzymes catalyze self-scission of the RNA backbone using a chemical mechanism equivalent to that of RNase A. RNase A uses four basic strategies to promote this reaction: geometric constraints, activation of the nucleophile, transition-state stabilization, and leaving group protonation. In this Account, we discuss the current thinking on how nucleolytic ribozymes harness RNase A's four sources of catalytic power. The geometry of the phosphodiester cleavage reaction constrains the nucleotides flanking the scissile phosphate so that they are unstacked from a canonical A-form helix and thus require alternative stabilization. Crystal structures and mutational analysis reveal that cross-strand base pairing, along with unconventional stacking and tertiary hydrogen-bonding interactions, work to stabilize the splayed conformation in nucleolytic ribozymes. Deprotonation of the 2'-OH nucleophile greatly increases its nucleophilicity in the strand scission reaction. Crystal structures of the hammerhead, hairpin, and glmS ribozymes reveal the N1 of a G residue within hydrogen-bonding distance of the 2'-OH. In each case, this residue has also been shown to be important for catalysis. In the HDV ribozyme, a hydrated magnesium has been implicated as the general base. Catalysis by the VS ribozyme requires both an A and a G, but the precise role of either has not been elucidated. Enzymes can lower the energy of a chemical reaction by binding more tightly to the transition state than to the ground states. Comparison of the hairpin ground- and transition-state mimic structures reveal greater hydrogen bonding to the transition-state mimic structure, suggesting transition-state stabilization as a possible catalytic strategy. However, the hydrogen-bonding pattern in the glmS ribozyme transition-state mimic structure and the ground-state structures are equivalent. Protonation of the 5'-O leaving group by a variety of functional groups can promote the cleavage reaction. In the HDV ribozyme, the general acid is a conserved C residue. In the hairpin ribozyme, a G residue has been implicated in protonation of the leaving group. An A in the hammerhead ribozyme probably plays a similar role. In the glmS ribozyme, an exogenous cofactor may provide the general acid. This diversity is in contrast to the relatively small number of functional groups that serve as a general base, where at least three of the nucleolytic ribozymes may use the N1 of a G.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society
    Loading ...
    Support Center