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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Sep 1;89(17):8006-10.

Targeted cleavage of mRNA by human RNase P.

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Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.


Ribonuclease P from Escherichia coli can cleave RNAs in simple, hydrogen-bonded complexes of two oligoribonucleotides that resemble the aminoacyl stem and 5' leader sequence of tRNA precursors. RNase P from human (HeLa) cells cannot catalyze the cleavage in vitro of the 5'-proximal oligoribonucleotide that contains the leader sequence in such simple complexes but can do so when the 3'-proximal oligoribonucleotide (external guide sequence) is altered to resemble three-quarters of a tRNA molecule. In such a complex, the efficiency of cleavage of the mRNA for chloramphenicol acetyltransferase, as the 5'-proximal oligoribonucleotide, depends on the structural details of the external guide sequence and on the choice of target site within the mRNA. The presence of the appropriately designed external guide sequence in cells in tissue culture reduces chloramphenicol acetyltransferase activity and the level of the corresponding intact mRNA in the cells. Thus, it appears that the use of such external guide sequences may provide a general technique for gene inactivation.

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