We designed three hairpin ribozymes to cleave Escherichia coli β-glucuronidase (GUS) mRNA and tested those activities in vitro. One of the ribozymes was designed to form 9 base pairs in total with the target GUS mRNA, and the other two ribozymes had longer substrate binding sites. All ribozymes cleaved the model substrate (100 bases long) at the predicted target site. Two ribozymes containing longer substrate binding sites cleaved the substrate much more efficiently than the other ribozyme containing shorter substrate binding site. Also, the ribozymes with long substrate binding sites had high activity against the full-length GUS mRNA (1.9 kilobases) and maintained the activity even at a low temperature, 26°C, a general growth condition of plant cells. Effects of the substrate binding site length of the ribozyme on cleavage activity are discussed.
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