Ribonuclease P

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Oct 27;366(1580):2936-41. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0142.


The gene coding for the RNA subunit of ribonuclease P (RNase P) is essential in all free-living organisms. The RNA subunit, itself, is an enzyme and, from its evolutionary tree, we can infer that it is a very ancient molecule. The specificity of this enzyme is that it cleaves other RNA molecules at the junction of single-stranded and the 5' end of double-stranded regions of RNA. One can speculate that this molecule was very useful in an ancient world in cleaving long pieces of RNA, which must have contained hairpin regions in it, into shorter molecules with the capability of different functions from the longer parent. Today, the specificity of the enzyme can be used in designing drug therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Operon
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA Cleavage
  • RNA Precursors / chemistry
  • Ribonuclease P / chemistry*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA
  • Ribonuclease P