Recently, hammerhead ribozyme-mediated cleavage was analyzed as a function of the concentration of La3+ ions in the presence of a fixed concentration of Mg2+ ions so that the role could be monitored of metal ions that are directly involved in the cleavage reaction. The resultant bell-shaped curve for activation of cleavage was used to support the proposed double-metal-ion mechanism of catalysis. However, other studies demonstrated that binding of a metal ion to the pro-Rp oxygen (P9 oxygen) of the phosphate moiety of nucleotide A9 and N7 of nucleotide G10.1 is critical for efficient catalysis. In order to clarify the effect of this metal ion, we chemically synthesized hammerhead ribozyme (7-deaza-R34) that included a minimal modification, namely, an N7-deazaguanine residue in place of G10.1.
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