Exoribonucleases and their multiple roles in RNA metabolism

Murray P. Deutscher, Zhongwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


In recent years there has been a dramatic shift in our thinking about ribonucleases (RNases). Although they were once considered to be nonspecific, degradative enzymes, it is now clear that RNases play a central role in every aspect of cellular RNA metabolism, including decay of mRNA, conversion of RNA precursors to their mature forms, and end-turnover of certain RNAs. Recognition of the importance of this class of enzymes has led to an explosion of work and the establishment of significant new concepts. Thus, we now realize that RNases, both endoribonucleases and exoribonucleases, can be highly specific for particular sequences or structures. It has also become apparent that a single cell can contain a large number of distinct RNases, approaching as many as 20 members, often with overlapping specificities. Some RNases also have been found to be components of supramolecular complexes and to function in concert with other enzymes to carry out their role in RNA metabolism. This review focuses on the exoribonucleases, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, and details their structure, catalytic properties, and physiological function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-105
Number of pages39
JournalProgress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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