The first ribozyme structure to be solved was that of the hammerhead. It reveals a simple tertiary structure consisting of a two-domain catalytic core at the junction of three duplex stems.


This structure presumably represents a "ground state" of the catalytic reaction; a substantial conformational change would be required to align the reactive groups in a catalytic conformation.

The hammerhead ribozyme, a small RNA enzyme can target and cleave specific phosphodiester bonds in oligonucleotides. Papers describing the three-dimensional structure of the ribozyme and the dilemma it poses regarding catalytic mechanism are cited below.

Selected publications

Pley, H. W., Flaherty, K. M. and McKay, D. B. (1994). "Three-dimensional structure of a hammerhead ribozyme."
Nature 372, 68-74. [PubMed]

McKay, D. B. (1996). "Structure and function of a hammerhead ribozyme: an unfinished story."
RNA 2, 395-403. [PubMed]

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