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ACS Comb Sci. 2012 Dec 10;14(12):680-7. doi: 10.1021/co300111f. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Systematic evaluation of the dependence of deoxyribozyme catalysis on random region length.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 61801, United States.


Functional nucleic acids are DNA and RNA aptamers that bind targets, or they are deoxyribozymes and ribozymes that have catalytic activity. These functional DNA and RNA sequences can be identified from random-sequence pools by in vitro selection, which requires choosing the length of the random region. Shorter random regions allow more complete coverage of sequence space but may not permit the structural complexity necessary for binding or catalysis. In contrast, longer random regions are sampled incompletely but may allow adoption of more complicated structures that enable function. In this study, we systematically examined random region length (N(20) through N(60)) for two particular deoxyribozyme catalytic activities, DNA cleavage and tyrosine-RNA nucleopeptide linkage formation. For both activities, we previously identified deoxyribozymes using only N(40) regions. In the case of DNA cleavage, here we found that shorter N(20) and N(30) regions allowed robust catalytic function, either by DNA hydrolysis or by DNA deglycosylation and strand scission via β-elimination, whereas longer N(50) and N(60) regions did not lead to catalytically active DNA sequences. Follow-up selections with N(20), N(30), and N(40) regions revealed an interesting interplay of metal ion cofactors and random region length. Separately, for Tyr-RNA linkage formation, N(30) and N(60) regions provided catalytically active sequences, whereas N(20) was unsuccessful, and the N(40) deoxyribozymes were functionally superior (in terms of rate and yield) to N(30) and N(60). Collectively, the results indicate that with future in vitro selection experiments for DNA and RNA catalysts, and by extension for aptamers, random region length should be an important experimental variable.

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