What is RNase? What is the importance of living things?

RNase means Ribonuclease. It is RNA digesting enzyme. It is another noteworthy example of a protein with a tertiary structure.  Let us see the basic details now.

  • The molecular weight of RNase is 13,700.
  • Christian Anfinsen (1950) and William stein (1958) have elucidated the complete structure of this pancreatic protein.
  • RNase consists of 124 amino acids in one polypeptide chain with 4 disulfide linkages.
  • The RNAse is hydrolyzed by Pepsin and Trypsin.
ribonuclease (RNAse) enzyme list

Classification of RNase enzymes

Ribonucleases can be divided into Endoribonucleases and Exoribonucleases, and comprise several sub-classes within the EC 2.7 (for the phosphorolytic enzymes) and 3.1 (for the hydrolytic enzymes) classes of enzymes.

Major types of Endoribonucleases

  • RNase A is an RNase that is commonly used in research. RNase A (e.g., bovine pancreatic ribonuclease A) is one of the hardiest enzymes in common laboratory usage; one method of isolating it is to boil a crude cellular extract until all enzymes other than RNase A are denatured. It is specific for single-stranded RNAs. It leaves the 3′-end of unpaired C and U residues, ultimately forming a 3′-phosphorylated product via a 2′,3′-cyclic monophosphate intermediate.
  • RNase H is a ribonuclease that cleaves the RNA in a DNA/RNA duplex to produce ssDNA. RNase H is a non-specific endonuclease and catalyzes the cleavage of RNA via a hydrolytic mechanism, aided by an enzyme-bound divalent metal ion. RNase H leaves a 5′-phosphorylated product.
  • RNase I cleaves 3′-end of ssRNA at all dinucleotide bonds leaving a 5′-hydroxyl, and 3′-phosphate, via a 2′,3′-cyclic monophosphate intermediate.
  • RNase III is a type of ribonuclease that cleaves rRNA (16s rRNA and 23s rRNA) from transcribed polycistronic RNA operon in prokaryotes. It also digests double strands RNA (dsRNA)-Dicer family of RNAse, cutting pre-miRNA (60–70bp long) at a specific site and transforming it in miRNA (22–30bp), that is actively involved in the regulation of transcription and mRNA lifetime.
  • RNase L is an interferon-induced nuclease that, upon activation, destroys all RNA within the cell
  • RNase P is a type of ribonuclease that is unique in that it is a ribozyme – a ribonucleic acid that acts as a catalyst in the same way as an enzyme. Its function is to cleave off an extra, or precursor, sequence on tRNA molecules. RNase P is one of two known multiple turnover ribozymes in nature. A form of RNase P that is a protein and does not contain RNA has recently been discovered.
  • RNase PhyM is sequence specific for single-stranded RNAs. It cleaves 3′-end of unpaired A and U residues.
  • RNase T1 is sequence specific for single-stranded RNAs. It cleaves 3′-end of unpaired G residues.
  • RNase T2 is sequence specific for single-stranded RNAs. It cleaves 3′-end of all 4 residues, but preferentially 3′-end of As.
  • RNase U2 is sequence specific for single-stranded RNAs. It cleaves 3′-end of unpaired A residues.
  • RNase V1 is non-sequence specific for double-stranded RNAs. It cleaves base-paired nucleotide residues.
  • RNase V

Major categories of Exoribonucleases

  • Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (PNPase) functions as an exonuclease as well as a nucleotidyltransferase.
  • RNase PH functions as an exonuclease as well as a nucleotidyltransferase.
  • RNase II is responsible for the processive 3′-to-5′ degradation of single-stranded RNA.
  • RNase R is a close homolog of RNase II, but it can, unlike RNase II, degrade RNA with secondary structures without the help of accessory factors.
  • RNase D is involved in the 3′-to-5′ processing of pre-tRNAs.
  • RNase T is the major contributor for the 3′-to-5′ maturation of many stable RNAs.
  • Oligoribonuclease degrades short oligonucleotides to mononucleotides.
  • Exoribonuclease I degrades single-stranded RNA from 5′-to-3′, exists only in eukaryotes.
  • Exoribonuclease II is a close homolog of Exoribonuclease I.


  • All organisms studied contain many RNases of many different classes, showing that RNA degradation is a very ancient and important process.
  • As well as cleaning of cellular RNA that is no longer required, RNases play key roles in the maturation of all RNA molecules, both messenger RNAs that carry genetic material for making proteins, and non-coding RNAs that function in varied cellular processes.
    In addition, active RNA degradation systems are the first defense against RNA viruses and provide the underlying machinery for more advanced cellular immune strategies such as RNAi.

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