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Nature. 1991 Sep 26;353(6342):368-70.

Antibiotic inhibition of group I ribozyme function.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Universität Wien, Vienna, Austria.


The discovery of catalytically active RNA has provided the basis for the evolutionary concept of an RNA world. It has been proposed that during evolution the functions of ancient catalytic RNA were modulated by low molecular weight effectors, related to antibiotics, present in the primordial soup. Antibiotics and RNA may have coevolved in the formation of the modern ribosome. Here we report that a set of aminoglycoside antibiotics, which are known to interact with the decoding region of the 16S ribosomal RNA of Escherichia coli, inhibit the second step of splicing of the T4 phage-derived td intron. Thus catalytic RNA seems to interact not only with a mononucleotide and an amino acid, but also with another class of biomolecules, the sugars. Splicing of other group I introns but not group II introns was inhibited. The similarity in affinity and specificity of these antibiotics for group I introns and rRNAs may result from recognition of evolutionarily conserved structures.

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