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Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2001 Oct;3(4):71-8.

The RNase III family: a conserved structure and expanding functions in eukaryotic dsRNA metabolism.

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Département de Microbiologie et d'Infectiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.


The last few years have witnessed the appreciation of dsRNA as a regulator of gene expression, a potential antiviral agent, and a tumor suppressor. However, in spite of these clear effects on the cell function, the mechanism that controls dsRNA maturation and stability remains unknown. Recently, the discovery of eukaryotic orthologues of the bacterial dsRNA specific ribonuclease III (RNase III) suggested a central role for these enzymes in the regulation of dsRNA and eukaryotic RNA metabolism in general. This article reviews the structure-function features of the eukaryotic RNase III family and their roles in dsRNA metabolism with an emphasis on the yeast RNase III. Yeast RNase III is involved in the maturation of the majority of snRNAs, snoRNAs, and rRNA. In addition, perturbation of the expression level of yeast RNase III alters meiosis and causes sterility. These basic functions of the yeast RNase III appear to be widely conserved which makes it a good model to understand the importance of eukaryotic dsRNA metabolism.

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