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Fold Des. 1996;1(4):R78-88.

RNA tectonics: towards RNA design.

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Institut de Biologie Mol├ęculaire et Cellulaire du CNRS-UPR 9002, Strasbourg, France.


Our understanding of the structural, folding and catalytic properties of RNA molecules has increased enormously in recent years. The discovery of catalytic RNA molecules by Sidney Altman and Tom Cech, the development of in vitro selection procedures, and the recent crystallizations of hammerhead ribozymes and of a large domain of an autocatalytic group 1 intron are some of the milestones that have contributed to the explosion of the RNA field. The availability of a three-dimensional model for the catalytic core of group 1 introns contributed also a heuristic drive toward the development of new techniques and approaches for unravelling RNA architecture, folding and stability. Here, we emphasize the mosaic structure of RNA and review some of the recent literature pertinent to this working framework. In the long run, RNA tectonics aims at constructing combinatorial libraries, using RNA mosaic units for creating molecules with dedicated shapes and properties.

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