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The hammerhead ribozyme is a small
catalytic RNA that was discovered in 1986, and William Scott began
structural studies on it in 1987 as a graduate student with
Kim at Berkeley, and continued to do so with Aaron Klug
(MRC, Cambridge) as a postdoc.
David McKay and coworkers at Stanford published the first
structure in 1994, which was that of a 'minimal' hammerhead RNA
enzyme strand bound to an all-DNA substrate analogue. In 1995,
Scott, Finch and Klug published an all-RNA minimal hammerhead
ribozyme, and subsequently our group has worked on obtaining
structures of the minimal hammerhead.
After working with the minimal construct for many years, the
hammerhead ribozyme community finally realized in 2003 that a
'full-length' hammerhead construct that contains a crucial set of
tertiary contacts distant from the active site enhances the
catalytic prowess of the hammerhead by nearly 1000-fold. Recently,
we solved its structure.
The structure reveals how tertiary contacts distant from the active
site prime the ribozyme for catalysis. Click here or on the the title under
the ribbon image above to learn more about this structure and to
access additional links and resources.