Journal of the American Chemical Society vol. 145 p. 2830-2839 DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c10079 Published: 2023-01-27
Ribonucleases and small nucleolytic ribozymes are both able to catalyze RNA strand cleavage through 2′-O-transphosphorylation, provoking the question of whether protein and RNA enzymes facilitate mechanisms that pass through the same or distinct transition states. Here, we report the primary and secondary 18O kinetic isotope effects for hepatitis delta virus ribozyme catalysis that reveal a dissociative, metaphosphate-like transition state in stark contrast to the late, associative transition states observed for reactions catalyzed by specific base, Zn2+ ions, or ribonuclease A. This new information provides evidence for a discrete ribozyme active site design that modulates the RNA cleavage pathway to pass through an altered transition state.