The structural basis of ribozyme-catalyzed RNA assembly.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1126/science.1136231
Life originated, according to the RNA World hypothesis, from self-replicating ribozymes that catalyzed ligation of RNA fragments. We have solved the 2.6 angstrom crystal structure of a ligase ribozyme that catalyzes regiospecific formation of a 5' to 3' phosphodiester bond between the 5'-triphosphate and the 3'-hydroxyl termini of two RNA fragments. Invariant residues form tertiary contacts that stabilize a flexible stem of the ribozyme at the ligation site, where an essential magnesium ion coordinates three phosphates. The structure of the active site permits us to suggest how transition-state stabilization and a general base may catalyze the ligation reaction required for prebiotic RNA assembly.