Ribozymes are RNA molecules that exhibit catalytic activity, a property traditionally associated with protein enzymes.

They are involved in various cellular processes, including RNA processing, RNA splicing, and the replication of some RNA viruses. One of the most studied ribozymes is the hammerhead ribozyme, which cleaves RNA at specific sites. Ribozymes function by folding into complex three-dimensional structures that are essential for their catalytic activity. The catalytic core of a ribozyme typically consists of conserved sequence motifs that stabilize the active conformation and participate in catalysis.


The discovery of ribozymes challenged the long-held notion that only proteins could catalyze biochemical reactions. This discovery led to the hypothesis of an RNA world, suggesting that RNA may have preceded proteins as the primary biological catalysts in early life forms. Ribozymes are therefore of great interest in studies of the origin of life and the evolution of catalysis.

In addition to their biological significance, ribozymes have practical applications in biotechnology and medicine. They can be engineered to cleave specific RNA sequences, making them useful tools for gene targeting and the study of gene function. Ribozymes are also being investigated as potential therapeutic agents for treating viral infections, cancer, and genetic disorders.

However, challenges remain in delivering ribozymes to target cells and ensuring their stability and efficacy in vivo. Nonetheless, the study of ribozymes continues to provide valuable insights into the molecular basis of catalysis and the potential for RNA-based therapeutics.

For more information , watch this explainer video:

Also, you can get the necessary information about the ribozymes from the book Intracellular Ribozyme Applications

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