Behind the neologism “ribozymes” lies a family of fascinating molecules, ribo-enzymes, which have been relatively little studied. These catalytically active RNAs are found in all strata of life, from viruses to the human genome.
At the end of the 1970s, the discovery of a catalytic RNA nestled in an intron, followed by another involved in the maturation of transfer RNAs, led to the discovery of new ribozymes and the transition from a strictly “proteocentric” vision, inherited from the dogma of molecular biology, to a more “nucleocentric” one. Since then, a variety of ribozymes have been identified in genomes, where their functions often remain mysterious.
Looking at Ribozymes traces the discovery of these molecules and presents a picture of their functional diversity, catalytic mechanisms and distribution within the tree of life.
1. Fundamentals of RNA and Ribozyme Structure.
2. Ribozymes and the “Central Dogma” of Molecular Biology.
3. The Discovery of Ribozymes.
4. Ribozyme Engineering and the RNA World.
5. Structures of Ribozymes.
6. Evolution of the Vision of the Catalytic Mechanisms of Ribozymes, the Hammerhead Ribozyme.
7. The Distribution of Ribozymes in Living Organisms and Molecular Adaptations during Evolution.
Benoît Masquida is director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and carries out his research and teaching activities at the University of Strasbourg, France. He is the author of over 60 publications and is one of France’s leading specialists in ribozymes.
Fabrice Leclerc is a research fellow at the CNRS and conducts his research at the Paris-Saclay University, France. He has published numerous articles on RNA catalysis in ribozymes and their role in viroids and in the RNA world.
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