Short RNA guides cleavage by eukaryotic RNase III

PLoS One. 2007 May 30;2(5):e472. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000472.


In eukaryotes, short RNAs guide a variety of enzymatic activities that range from RNA editing to translation repression. It is hypothesized that pre-existing proteins evolved to bind and use guide RNA during evolution. However, the capacity of modern proteins to adopt new RNA guides has never been demonstrated. Here we show that Rnt1p, the yeast orthologue of the bacterial dsRNA-specific RNase III, can bind short RNA transcripts and use them as guides for sequence-specific cleavage. Target cleavage occurred at a constant distance from the Rnt1p binding site, leaving the guide RNA intact for subsequent cleavage. Our results indicate that RNase III may trigger sequence-specific RNA degradation independent of the RNAi machinery, and they open the road for a new generation of precise RNA silencing tools that do not trigger a dsRNA-mediated immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Hydrolysis
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Guide / chemistry
  • RNA, Guide / physiology*
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism*


  • RNA, Guide
  • Ribonuclease III