Pressure modulates the self-cleavage step of the hairpin ribozyme Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/3628-7850-1820-5237-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2017


  • The ability of certain RNAs, denoted as ribozymes, to not only store genetic information but also catalyse chemical reactions gave support to the RNA world hypothesis as a putative step in the development of early life on Earth. This, however, might have evolved under extreme environmental conditions, including the deep sea with pressures in the kbar regime. Here we study pressure-induced effects on the self-cleavage of hairpin ribozyme by following structural changes in real-time. Our results suggest that compression of the ribozyme leads to an accelerated transesterification reaction, being the self-cleavage step, although the overall process is retarded in the high-pressure regime. The results reveal that favourable interactions between the reaction site and neighbouring nucleobases are strengthened under pressure, resulting therefore in an accelerated self-cleavage step upon compression. These results suggest that properly engineered ribozymes may also act as piezophilic biocatalysts in addition to their hitherto known properties.


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