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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Apr 1;245(1):1-16.

The structure, function and application of the hammerhead ribozyme.

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Max-Planck-Institut für experimentelle Medizin, Göttingen, Germany.


The hammerhead ribozyme is one of the smallest ribozymes known and catalyses the site-specific hydrolysis of a phosphodiester bond. This small ribozyme is of interest for two reasons. It offers a convenient system to study the structure/function relationship of a nucleotide sequence, and is a potential vehicle for the inhibition of gene expression. The first part of the review summarizes the sequence requirements of the hammerhead, its three-dimensional structure and the proposed mechanism, in addition to ribozyme specificity and turnover. The second part of the review focuses on the in vivo application of the ribozyme. The processes involved in designing ribozymes for efficient cleavage in vivo are described, together with possible delivery strategies.

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