The RNA-world-theory is one possible explanation of how life on earth has evolved. In this context it is of high interest to search for molecular systems, capable of self-organization into structures with increasing complexity. We have engineered a simple catalytic system in which two short RNA molecules can catalyze their own ligation to form a larger RNA construct. The system is based on the hairpin ribozyme using a 2',3'-cyclophosphate as activated species for ligation. 2',3'-cyclic phosphates can be easily formed and occur in many natural systems, thus being superior candidates for activated building blocks in RNA world scenarios.
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