Hovlinc is a recently evolved class of ribozyme found in human lncRNA

Yue Chen, Fei Qi, Fan Gao, Huifen Cao, Dongyang Xu, Kourosh Salehi-Ashtiani, Philipp Kapranov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although naturally occurring catalytic RNA molecules—ribozymes—have attracted a great deal of research interest, very few have been identified in humans. Here, we developed a genome-wide approach to discovering self-cleaving ribozymes and identified a naturally occurring ribozyme in humans. The secondary structure and biochemical properties of this ribozyme indicate that it belongs to an unidentified class of small, self-cleaving ribozymes. The sequence of the ribozyme exhibits a clear evolutionary path, from its appearance between ~130 and ~65 million years ago (Ma), to acquiring self-cleavage activity very recently, ~13–10 Ma, in the common ancestors of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. The ribozyme appears to be functional in vivo and is embedded within a long noncoding RNA belonging to a class of very long intergenic noncoding RNAs. The presence of a catalytic RNA enzyme in lncRNA creates the possibility that these transcripts could function by carrying catalytic RNA domains. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-607
Number of pages7
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Animals
  • Base Pairing
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15
  • Genome
  • Gorilla gorilla/classification
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Pan paniscus/classification
  • Pan troglodytes/classification
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Catalytic/chemistry
  • RNA, Long Noncoding/chemistry
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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