Stability of hairpin ribozyme tertiary structure is governed by the interdomain junction Academic Article uri icon

publication date

  • 1999


  • The equilibrium distributions of hairpin ribozyme conformational isomers have been examined by time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer. Ribozymes partition between active (docked) and inactive (extended) conformers, characterized by unique interdomain distance distributions, which define differences in folding free energy. The active tertiary structure is stabilized both by specific interactions between the catalytic and the substrate-binding domains and by the structure of the intervening helical junction. Under physiological conditions, the docking equilibrium of the natural four-way junction dramatically favors the active conformer, while those of a three-way and the two-way junction used in gene therapy applications favor the inactive conformer.