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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Jul;16(7):417-30. doi: 10.1038/nrm3994. Epub 2015 May 28.

Swiss army knives: non-canonical functions of nuclear Drosha and Dicer.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK.


The RNase III enzymes Drosha and Dicer are essential for the production of small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). In canonical RNAi, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by post-transcriptional gene silencing. In non-canonical RNAi, nuclear RNAi factors generate small ncRNAs that are essential for transcriptional gene silencing. Recent evidence points to the existence of additional non-canonical nuclear RNAi functions in various organisms, including in genome maintenance and editing, as well as in DNA repair. Drosha and Dicer directly regulate gene expression and RNA metabolism at different stages, such as transcriptional initiation and termination, and the processing of various RNA species, including pre-mRNAs. Furthermore, Dicer isoforms were recently discovered and attributed with roles in apoptosis, development and disease.

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