Mini-III, a fourth class of RNase III catalyses maturation of the Bacillus subtilis 23S ribosomal RNA

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Ribonuclease III (RNase III) type of enzymes are double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-specific endoribonucleases that have important roles in RNA maturation and mRNA decay. They are involved in processing precursors of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) in bacteria as well as precursors of short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) in eukaryotes. RNase III proteins have been grouped in three major classes according to their domain organization. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Redko et al. identified a novel class of bacterial RNase III, named Mini-III, consisting only of the RNase III catalytic domain and functioning in the maturation of the 23S rRNA in Bacillus subtilis. Its absence from proteobacteria reveals that this step is mechanistically different from the corresponding step in Escherichia coli. The fact that Mini-III orthologues are present in unicellular photosynthetic eukaryotes and in plants opens new opportunities for functional studies of this type of RNases.

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