We recently reported that a DNA catalyst (deoxyribozyme) can site-specifically hydrolyze DNA on the minutes time scale. Sequence specificity is provided by Watson-Crick base pairing between the DNA substrate and two oligonucleotide binding arms that flank the 40-nt catalytic region of the deoxyribozyme. The DNA catalyst from our recent in vitro selection effort, 10MD5, can cleave a single-stranded DNA substrate sequence with the aid of Zn 2+ and Mn 2+ cofactors, as long as the substrate cleavage site encompasses the four particular nucleotides ATG^T. Thus, 10MD5 can cleave only 1 out of every 256 (4 4) arbitrarily chosen DNA sites, which is rather poor substrate sequence tolerance. In this study, we demonstrated substantially broader generality of deoxyribozymes for site-specific DNA hydrolysis. New selection experiments were performed, revealing the optimality of presenting only one or two unpaired DNA substrate nucleotides to the N 40 DNA catalytic region. Comprehensive selections were then performed, including in some cases a key selection pressure to cleave the substrate at a predetermined site. These efforts led to identification of numerous new DNA-hydrolyzing deoxyribozymes, many of which require merely two particular nucleotide identities at the cleavage site (e.g. T^G), while retaining Watson-Crick sequence generality beyond those nucleotides along with useful cleavage rates. These findings establish experimentally that broadly sequence-tolerant and site-specific deoxyribozymes are readily identified for hydrolysis of single-stranded DNA.
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