Scission of RNA by the chemical nuclease of 1,10-phenanthroline-copper ion: preference for single-stranded loops.


The scission of RNA by the chemical nuclease activity of 1,10-phenanthroline-copper (OP-Cu) has been studied using a lac mRNA fragment and tRNAphe as substrates. Since the chemical mechanism of scission involves oxidative attack on the ribose, scission is observed at all nucleotides including dihydrouridine and Y-bases. Specificity for single-stranded loop regions is apparent from the similarity of the reactivity of OP-Cu to the single-strand specific reagents dimethyl sulfate and diethyl pyrocarbonate using the fragment of lac mRNA as a substrate. Similar preference is observed in the reaction with tRNA although scission in the helical acceptor stem is also observed.

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