Ribonucleases

Abstract

Ribonucleases are a very heterogeneous group of enzymes, both with respect to structure and function. They all catalyse the cleavage of phosphodiester bonds, endonucleolytically or exonucleolytically, with more or less specificity. They occur ubiquitously and are involved, directly or indirectly, in almost every cellular process.

Keywords: classes of ribonucleases; biological functions; sequences and structures; catalytic mechanisms; specificity; ribonuclease inhibitors; application of ribonucleases

Figure 1.

Crystal structures of ribonucleases shown as ribbon diagrams with α helices in orange and β sheets in green. (a) RNase A (PDB entry 1RNW). (a1) Superposition in stereo of three members of the family of RNase A: RNase (blue), angiogenin (green) (1AGI) and onconase (red) (10NC). (a2) A dimeric member of the RNase family – bovine seminal RNase (1BSR). (b) RNase T1 (1BIR). (c) Serratia nuclease (1SMN). (d) Staphylococcal nuclease (1STN). (e) Nuclease P1 (1AKO). (f) RNase HI (1KVA). (g) Restrictocin (1AQZ).

Figure 2.

The two mechanisms of phosphodiester bond cleavage employed by ribonucleases. (a1, a2) Two reactions characterizing the two‐step mechanism, as for example used by bovine pancreatic RNase A. (b) The concerted mechanism, as for example used by Serratia nuclease.

Figure 3.

Crystal structures of ribonuclease × ribonuclease inhibitor complexes. (a) RNase A–RI complex (PDB entry 1DFS), with the inhibitor encircling the ribonuclease. (b) Barnase–barstar complex (PDF entry 1BRS), with the inhibitor on the lower left and the nuclease on the upper right.

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Further Reading

Burrell MM (1993) Enzyme of Molecular Biology, 16 of Methods in Molecular Biology. Totowa: Humana Press.

D'Alessio G and Riordan JF (eds) (1997) Ribonucleases – Structures and Functions. San Diego: Academic Press.

Eun HM (1996) Enzymology Primer for Recombinant DNA Technology. San Diego: Academic Press.

Linn SM, Lloyd RS and Roberts RJ (eds) (1993) Nucleases, 2nd edn. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

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Pingoud, Alfred, and Meiss, Gregor(May 2005) Ribonucleases. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003895]