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RNA. 2009 Nov;15(11):2035-45. doi: 10.1261/rna.1635209. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Direct selection for ribozyme cleavage activity in cells.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Selection may prove to be a powerful tool for the generation of functional RNAs for in vivo genetic regulation. However, traditional in vitro selection schemes do not mimic physiological conditions, and in vivo selection schemes frequently use small pool sizes. Here we describe a hybrid in vitro/in vivo selection scheme that overcomes both of these disadvantages. In this new method, PCR-amplified expression templates are transfected into mammalian cells, transcribed hammerhead RNAs self-cleave, and the extracted, functional hammerhead ribozyme species are specifically amplified for the next round of selection. Using this method we have selected a number of cis-cleaving hammerhead ribozyme variants that are functional in vivo and lead to the inhibition of gene expression. More importantly, these results have led us to develop a quantitative, kinetic model that can be used to assess the stringency of the hybrid selection scheme and to direct future experiments.

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