Novel RNA enzymes, or ribozymes, are sought in large pools of random RNA sequences. Because of the large number of random positions in an individual pool molecule, only a vanishingly small fraction of the possible sequences are actually present. Even so, increasing the length of the individual pool molecules significantly increases the probability of finding a particular complex ribozyme. Because ribozymes are typically composed of conserved sequences interleaved with regions that can vary in sequence and length, a longer molecule allows a greater number of possible arrangements of a given ribozyme motif, increasing the likelihood that it will be present in the pool. Once a ribozyme motif has been found, rational and irrational optimization techniques can be used to identify related ribozyme sequences with greater activity.
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