Although I was not a biology major in college, I took the biology introduction sequence, as well as organic chemistry and biochemistry.

I would like to learn more about RNA and ribozymes. What texts/textbooks are currently used? Perhaps it's best to begin with a genetics textbook.

The scope of the book should cover be at a undergraduate level or higher, and should cover the dynamics and purpose of ribozymes.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd start with the most recent edition of Watson's "Molecular Biology of the Gene". The problem with RNA books is you go too old (which may still be relatively new), you could be in the dark ages of RNA. I'd say newer is better, and there's a new edition of Molecular Biology of RNA set to release in '16. Textbooks are perhaps more unreliable than literature in this respect given some of the good ones date back to 2011. $\endgroup$
    – CKM
    Aug 18, 2015 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ Jennifer Doudna is probably the preeminent researcher in RNA today. I would say that reading her papers would give you graduate level coverage of the topic. Watson's MBOG may be a little too generic if you are focused solely on RNA, and there are better choices of advanced level genetics texts if your interest in more general genetics. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Aug 19, 2015 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ Please read the tag-wiki for book-recommendation. You should address all the mentioned points in detail, otherwise your question would be considered broad/opinion based. $\endgroup$
    Aug 19, 2015 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AMR "there are better choices of advanced level genetics texts if your interest in more general genetics." Do you have a suggestion? Thanks $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ I hesitate to recommend this Text because it is difficult to read... but Lewin's Genes XI. This is the Amazon.com page. Even in their description they say it is designed for Upper Level or Graduate Genetics, and they are not exaggerating. The material is excellent, but it is difficult to use as a textbook. They will make references to topics in other sections, but they reference by name, so you have to go to the TOC to figure out where in the book you need to go... $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Aug 19, 2015 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


As suggested by others, you can start with some basics on molecular biology. Genes - Benjamin Lewin and Molecular Biology of the Gene - James Watson et al. are good books for the basics.

I haven't seen any book dedicated to RNA-biology and most of my understanding has come from reviews.

You can start by studying RNA secondary (and higher order) structures which is essential for understanding how riboswitches function. I would suggest that you first begin with the wikipedia article on this (it is not that great). The above-mentioned books would also cover the basics. You may then have a look at this review which is about thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of RNA-hairpins:

       Structures, Kinetics, Thermodynamics, and Biological Functions of RNA Hairpins

For Riboswitches you can refer to these reviews, which are quite comprehensive:

This is another comprehensive review on ribozymes:

        Ribozyme Structures and Mechanisms

PS: Some of these articles may not be freely available. You can mail the corresponding author (email address would be mentioned in the article) requesting for a reprint.


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