First Advisor

Dirk Iwata-Reuyl

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Studies: Health Sciences and University Honors


Health Studies




Catalytic RNA, Manganese




The RNA world hypothesis suggests that RNA systems were the first form of life on the planet, beginning to appear approximately 4 billion years ago. Group I introns are self-splicing RNA elements in extant organisms and use Mg2+ as the principle divalent cation to promote catalysis. The group I intron ribozyme from Azoarcus is frequently used in origin of life studies, partially due to its autocatalytic abilities - the Azoarcus ribozyme is able to be broken into fragments and reassemble itself into its fully functional ribozyme. Previous work identified metal binding sites on the Azoarcus ribozyme which use both potassium and magnesium ions, and suggest that other divalent ions, such as manganese (II), may be capable of substituting for Mg2+ in specific binding sites. The geological profile of the early earth suggests that manganese (II) was especially prevalent in nodules present on the ocean floor. Compatibility with manganese (II) could have potentially offered a fitness advantage to early organisms occupying oceanic environments. We performed a series of experiments to demonstrate the catalytic ability of the Azoarcus ribozyme in various concentrations of MnCl2, using two different reaction mechanisms. We show that the catalytic activity of the Azoarcus ribozyme to be significantly improved when Mg2+ was replaced with manganese (II), but only when reacted with exogenous oligonucleotide substrate.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Chemistry Commons