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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2005 Feb;15(1):107-15.

Novel modes of protein-RNA recognition in the RNAi pathway.

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EMBL Heidelberg, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Gene silencing mediated by RNA interference (RNAi) depends on short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and micro RNAs (miRNAs). These RNAs have unique features, namely a defined size of 19-21 base pairs, and characteristic two-nucleotide single-stranded 3' overhangs and 5' monophosphate groups. These molecular features of siRNAs and miRNAs are produced by RNase III enzymes, which are a hallmark of gene silencing induced by double-stranded RNA. Recent structural studies of components of the RNAi pathway, including PAZ, Piwi and RNase III domains, as well as full-length Argonaute and viral p19 proteins, have revealed distinct and novel modes of sequence-independent recognition of the characteristic features of siRNAs and miRNAs in the RNAi pathway.

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