Research Articles

The intervening sequence RNA of Tetrahymena is an enzyme

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Science  31 Jan 1986:
Vol. 231, Issue 4737, pp. 470-475
DOI: 10.1126/science.3941911


A shortened form of the self-splicing ribosomal RNA (rRNA) intervening sequence of Tetrahymena thermophila acts as an enzyme in vitro. The enzyme catalyzes the cleavage and rejoining of oligonucleotide substrates in a sequence-dependent manner with Km = 42 microM and kcat = 2 min-1. The reaction mechanism resembles that of rRNA precursor self-splicing. With pentacytidylic acid as the substrate, successive cleavage and rejoining reactions lead to the synthesis of polycytidylic acid. Thus, the RNA molecule can act as an RNA polymerase, differing from the protein enzyme in that it uses an internal rather than an external template. At pH 9, the same RNA enzyme has activity as a sequence-specific ribonuclease.

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