Recent experimental work on the hairpin and hammerhead ribozymes suggests that they have more similarities than previously suspected. Notably, each is now known to function as a true RNA catalyst, not requiring metal ions for folding or catalytic function. The active conformation of the hairpin ribozyme has been established by crystallography, and is well supported by biochemical and biophysical evidence that has identified conformational changes and key nucleotides required for catalysis. Analogous work is under way to establish the active structure of the hammerhead ribozyme.

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