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FEBS Lett. 2010 Jun 3;584(11):2194-200. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2010.04.018. Epub 2010 Apr 11.

The eight human "canonical" ribonucleases: molecular diversity, catalytic properties, and special biological actions of the enzyme proteins.

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  • 1Department of Structural and Functional Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.


Human ribonucleases (RNases) are members of a large superfamily of rapidly evolving homologous proteins. Upon completion of the human genome, eight catalytically active RNases (numbered 1-8) were identified. These structurally distinct RNases, characterized by their various catalytic differences on different RNA substrates, constitute a gene family that appears to be the sole vertebrate-specific enzyme family. Apart from digestion of dietary RNA, a wide variety of biological actions, including neurotoxicity, angiogenesis, immunosuppressivity, and anti-pathogen activity, have been recently reported for almost all members of the family. Recent evolutionary studies suggest that RNases started off in vertebrates as host defence or angiogenic proteins.

Copyright 2010 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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