One of the major goals in bioorganic research is to trigger molecular functions by external signals. These signals may be other molecules (effectors), light, or electric fields. We are working on ribozymes that are regulated by various principles. These systems may find applications in sensor development and nanotechnology.
Light-induced regulation of ribozymes
There are many processes in nature that are controlled by light as for instance photosynthesis, light-triggered motion of microorganisms or sight. Common to all these natural systems is the use of chromophors to translate radiation into chemical signals. We want to apply the same principle to control the activity of ribozymes. As the tertiary structure plays a crucial role in RNA catalysis our strategy is to tether photochromic compounds to a ribozyme allowing to trigger a fully reversible conformational change. The alteration in structure should give rise to an active and an inactive conformer, with the possibility to switch easily by radiation between both states.
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