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Hammerhead selection

Jonathan B Weitzman

Genome Biology 2001, 2:spotlight-20011102-01  doi:10.1186/gb-spotlight-20011102-01

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:2 November 2001

© 2001 BioMed Central Ltd

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Hammerhead ribozymes with self-cleaving properties have been found in a range of organisms, including plants, newts, schistosomes and cave crickets. In the November 1 Nature, Salahi-Ashtiani and Szostak of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital describe an in vitro system to address the origins of hammerhead ribozymes (Nature 2001, 413:82-84). They used a DNA collection encoding large random-sequence RNAs to select self-cleaving RNAs. Repeated rounds of selection lead to the artificial evolution of self-cleaving molecules. Of these, several have sequence features of hammerhead ribozymes. The authors suggest that the hammerhead ribozyme is the simplest RNA motif with self-cleaving abilities, which explains why it has been selected repeatedly during evolution.


  1. Self-cleaving catalytic RNA

    PubMed Abstract OpenURL

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    Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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    Massachusetts General Hospital