The exquisite target selectivity of trans-acting ribozymes has fostered their use as potential therapeutic agents and tools for down-regulating cellular transcripts. In living cells, free diffusion of RNAs is extremely limited, if it exists at all. Thus, getting ribozymes to base-pair with their cognate targets requires co-localizing the ribozyme transcript with the target RNA. In addition, not all sites along a given target RNA are equally accessible to ribozyme base pairing. Cellular proteins greatly influence the trafficking and structure of RNA, and therefore making ribozymes work effectively in cells a significant challenge. This article addresses the problems of getting engineered ribozymes to effectively pair with and cleave targets in cells. The work described here illuminates methods for target-site selection on native mRNAs, methods for ribozyme expression, and strategies for obtaining a discrete intracellular localization of ribozymes.

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