In vitro selection with long random RNA libraries has been used as a powerful method to generate novel functional RNAs, although it often requires laborious structural analysis of isolated RNA molecules. Rational RNA design is an attractive alternative to avoid this laborious step, but rational design of catalytic modules is still a challenging task. A hybrid strategy of in vitro selection and rational design has been proposed. With this strategy termed "design and selection," new ribozymes can be generated through installation of catalytic modules onto RNA scaffolds with defined 3D structures. This approach, the concept of which was inspired by the modular architecture of naturally occurring ribozymes, allows prediction of the overall architectures of the resulting ribozymes, and the structural modularity of the resulting ribozymes allows modification of their structures and functions. In this review, we summarize the design, generation, properties, and engineering of four classes of ligase ribozyme generated by design and selection.
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