The dsRNA binding protein family: Critical roles, diverse cellular functions

Laura R. Saunders, Glen N. Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


The dsRNA binding proteins (DRBPs) comprise a growing family of eukaryotic, prokaryotic, and viral-encoded products that share a common evolutionarily conserved motif specifically facilitating interaction with dsRNA. Proteins harboring dsRNA binding domains (DRBDs) have been reported to interact with as little as 11 bp of dsRNA, an event that is independent of nucleotide sequence arrangement. More than 20 DRBPs have been identified and reportedly function in a diverse range of critically important roles in the cell. Examples include the dsRNA-dependent protein kinase PKR that functions in dsRNA signaling and host defense against virus infection and DICER, which is implicated in RNA interference (RNAi) -mediated gene silencing. Other DRBPs such as Staufen, adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR), and spermatid perinuclear RNA binding protein (SPNR) are known to play essential roles in development, translation, RNA editing, and stability. In many cases, homozygous and even heterozygous disruption of DRBPs in animal models results in embryonic lethality. These results implicate the recognition of dsRNA as an evolutionarily conserved mechanism important in the regulation of gene expression and in host defense and underscore the diversity of essential biological tasks performed by dsRNA-related processes in the cell. - Saunders, L. R., Barber, G. N. The dsRNA binding protein family: critical roles, diverse cellular functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-983
Number of pages23
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • mRNA
  • RNA editing
  • RNAi
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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