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

Nat Chem Biol. 2021 May;17(5):601-607. doi: 10.1038/s41589-021-00763-0. Epub 2021 Mar 22.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

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


  • RNA, Catalytic
  • RNA, Long Noncoding