Protein enhancement of hammerhead ribozyme catalysis

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Science  01 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5130, pp. 99-102
DOI: 10.1126/science.7692597


When the recognition sequence of a ribozyme is extended beyond a certain length, turnover is slowed and specificity is decreased. Here, it is shown that a protein can help a ribozyme overcome these general limitations on ribozyme activity. Cleavage of an RNA oligonucleotide by a hammerhead ribozyme is enhanced 10- to 20-fold upon addition of a protein derived from the p7 nucleocapsid (NC) protein of human immunodeficiency virus-type 1. The NC protein also enhances the ability of the ribozyme to discriminate between cleavage of RNA oligonucleotides with differing sequences. These catalytic improvements can be attributed to the strand exchange activity of this RNA binding protein. It is conceivable that endogenous or added proteins may provide analogous increases in ribozyme activity and specificity in vivo.