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Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Oct;112(1):243-63. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

Polynucleotide phosphorylase: an evolutionary conserved gene with an expanding repertoire of functions.

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Department of Pathology, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


RNA metabolism plays a seminal role in regulating diverse physiological processes. Polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) is an evolutionary conserved 3',5' exoribonuclease, which plays a central role in RNA processing in bacteria and plants. Human polynucleotide phosphorylase (hPNPase old-35) was cloned using an inventive strategy designed to identify genes regulating the fundamental physiological processes of differentiation and senescence. Although hPNPase old-35 structurally and biochemically resembles PNPase of other species, targeted overexpression and inhibition studies reveal that hPNPase old-35 has evolved to serve more specialized functions in humans. The present review provides a global perspective on the structure and function of PNPase and then focuses on hPNPase old-35 in the contexts of differentiation and senescence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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