Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation vol. 19 p. 1322-1332 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.2c01277 Published: 2023-02-08
RNA strand cleavage by 2′-O-transphosphorylation is catalyzed not only by numerous nucleolytic RNA enzymes (ribozymes) but also by hydroxide or hydronium ions. In experiments, both cleavage of the 5′-linked nucleoside and isomerization between 3′,5′- and 2′,5′-phosphodiesters occur under acidic conditions, while only the cleavage reaction is observed under basic conditions. An ab initio path-integral approach for simulating kinetic isotope effects is used to reveal the reaction mechanisms for RNA cleavage and isomerization reactions under acidic conditions. Moreover, the proposed mechanisms can also be combined through the experimental pH-rate profiles.