The potential versatility of RNA catalysis

Timothy J. Wilson, David Lilley (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)
    185 Downloads (Pure)


    It is commonly thought that in the early development of life on this planet RNA would have acted both as a store of genetic information and as a catalyst. While a number of RNA enzymes are known in contemporary cells, they are largely confined to phosphoryl transfer reactions, whereas an RNA based metabolism would have required a much greater chemical diversity of catalysis. Here we discuss how RNA might catalyze a wider variety of chemistries, and particularly how information gleaned from riboswitches could suggest how ribozymes might recruit coenzymes to expand their chemical range. We ask how we might seek such activities in modern biology. This article is categorized under: RNA-Based Catalysis > Miscellaneous RNA-Catalyzed Reactions Regulatory RNAs/RNAi/Riboswitches > Riboswitches RNA Structure and Dynamics > RNA Structure, Dynamics and Chemistry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1651
    Number of pages12
    JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA
    Issue number5
    Early online date5 May 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


    • coenzymes
    • riboswitches
    • ribozymes
    • the RNA world

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology


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