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Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2014 Apr 28;4:52. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00052. eCollection 2014.

Ribonucleotide reductases: essential enzymes for bacterial life.

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Bacterial Infections and Antimicrobial Therapies Group, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia Barcelona, Spain.


Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.


DNA synthesis; NrdR; anaerobiosis; evolution; gene regulation; ribonucleotide reductase; transcriptional regulation

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