Group I introns and gnra tetraloops: remnants of ‘The RNA world’?

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GNRA tetraloops, found in high frequency in natural RNAs, make loop-receptor interactions, stabilizing the tertiary structure of Group I introns, a class of small RNAs. Analyzing 230 Group I introns, to study the distribution and sequence pattern of the GNRA tetraloops, we suggest that these features reflect the ancestral nature of these catalytic molecules, in a prebiotic RNA world. The adenosine rich GNRA tetraloops would have interacted with each other through long range RNA–RNA interactions to form higher order structures forming potential sites that render the propensity for the short RNAs to bind to metal ions from the prebiotic pool, aiding them to act as metalloenzymes.

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