Oligomerization of intervening sequence RNA molecules in the absence of proteins

Science  13 Sep 1985:
Vol. 229, Issue 4718, pp. 1060-1064
DOI: 10.1126/science.2412290


The intervening sequence RNA excised from the ribosomal RNA precursor of Tetrahymena forms linear and circular oligomers when exposed to a heating-cooling treatment in vitro. The reactions require no protein or external energy source. Oligomerization is different from other self-catalyzed reactions of the intervening sequence RNA in that it involves intermolecular rather than intramolecular recombination, producing RNA molecules that are substantially larger than the original. The observation that RNA molecules can catalyze their own oligomerization has possible implications for the evolution of chromosomes and for the replicative cycle of plant viroids and virus-associated RNA's.