A ribozyme with Michaelase activity: Synthesis of the substrate precursors

Alexander Eisenführ, Paramjit S. Arora, Gerhard Sengle, Leo R. Takaoka, James S. Nowick, Michael Famulok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to generate RNA molecules that can catalyze complex organic transformations not only facilitates the reconstruction and plausibility of possible prebiotic reaction pathways but is also crucial for elucidating the potential of the application of RNA catalysts in organic syntheses. Iterative RNA selection previously identified a ribozyme that catalyzes the Michael addition of a cysteine thiol to an α,β-unsaturated amide. This reaction is chemically similar to the rate limiting step of the thymidylate synthase reaction, which is the corresponding reaction of a cysteine thiol to the double-bond of the uracil nucleobase. Here we provide a detailed description of the synthesis of the ribozyme substrates and the substrate oligonucleotides used for its characterization and the investigation of the background reaction. We also describe the further characterization of the ribozyme with respect to substrate specificity. We show that the thiol group of the cysteine nucleophile is essential for the reaction to proceed. When substituted for a thiomethyl group, no reaction takes place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-249
Number of pages15
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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