noun, plural: ribozymes

RNA molecule that acts as an enzyme in the aminotransferase activity of the ribosome and in the cleavage of its own or another RNA


Ribozymes are RNA enzymes that catalyze certain biochemical reactions, such as in the aminotransferase activity of the ribosome and in the cleavage (or ligation) of its own or another RNA. They are also observed to participate in viral replication.

Ribozyme occurs within the ribosome. Ribosomes are biomolecules in the cytoplasm that participate in protein synthesis. Ribosomal RNAs form the two subunits of ribosome, particularly the large subunit and the small subunit. It is the large subunit of the ribosome that acts as ribozyme, catalyzing peptide bond formation between two amino acids.

The discovery of ribozyme in 1982 led to the thought that RNA can be a genetic material as well as a biological catalyst, and therefore, contributed to the RNA world hypothesis. This hypothesis proposed that RNA might have been essential in the evolution of prebiotic self-replicating systems. The study of ribozymes is referred to as ribozymology.

Examples of ribozymes are hammerhead ribozyme, hairpin ribozyme, and leadzyme.

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