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Catalytic Activity of a Binary Informational MacromoleculeRNA molecules are thought to have played a prominent role in the early history of life on Earth based on their ability both to encode genetic information and to exhibit catalytic function. The modern genetic alphabet relies on two sets of complementary base pairs to store genetic information. However, due to the chemical instability of cytosine, which readily deaminates to uracil, a primitive genetic system composed of the bases A, U, G and C may have been difficult to establish. It has been suggested that the first genetic material instead contained only a single base-pairing unie'. Here we show that binary informational macromolecules, containing only two different nucleotide subunits, can act as catalysts. In vitro evolution was used to obtain ligase ribozymes composed of only 2,6-diaminopurine and uracil nucleotides, which catalyze the template-directed joining of two RNA molecules, one bearing a 5'-triphosphate and the other a 3'-hydroxyl. The active conformation of the fastest isolated ribozyme had a catalytic rate that was about 36,000-fold faster than the uncatalyzed rate of reaction. This ribozyme is specific for the formation of biologically relevant 3',5'-phosphodiester linkages.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Reader, John S.
(Scripps Research Inst. La Jolla, CA, United States)
Joyce, Gerald F.
(Scripps Research Inst. La Jolla, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits

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