RNase MRP and disease

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. Jul-Aug 2010;1(1):102-16. doi: 10.1002/wrna.9. Epub 2010 May 6.


The human RNase MRP complex consists of a catalytic RNA and several protein components. RNase MRP is a ubiquitously expressed eukaryotic endoribonuclease that cleaves various RNAs, including ribosomal, messenger, and mitochondrial RNAs, in a highly specific fashion. In several autoimmune diseases autoantibodies targeting RNase MRP have been found. These so-called anti-Th/To autoantibodies, which most frequently can be detected in the sera of scleroderma patients, are directed to several protein components of the RNase MRP and the evolutionarily related RNase P complex. It is not yet known whether the anti-Th/To immune response is an epiphenomenon or whether these autoantibodies play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease. The gene encoding the RNase MRP RNA was the first nuclear non-coding RNA gene demonstrated to be associated with a genetic disease. Mutations in this gene are causing the highly pleiotropic disease cartilage-hair hypoplasia (CHH). CHH patients are characterized by a short stature, hypoplastic hair, and short limbs. In addition, they show a predisposition to lymphomas and other cancers and suffer from defective T-cell immunity. Since the identification of the first CHH-associated mutations in 2001, many distinct mutations have been found in different patients. These mutations either affect the structure of the RNase MRP RNA or are located in the promoter region and reduce the expression levels. In this review article we will, after describing the biochemical aspects of RNase MRP, discuss the targeting of RNase MRP in autoimmunity and the role of mutations in the RNase MRP RNA gene in CHH.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Disease / genetics*
  • Endoribonucleases / genetics
  • Endoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Endoribonucleases / physiology*
  • Hair / abnormalities
  • Hair / metabolism
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics
  • Hirschsprung Disease / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / genetics
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / congenital
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / genetics
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / metabolism
  • Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid / genetics
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid / physiology


  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid
  • Endoribonucleases
  • mitochondrial RNA-processing endoribonuclease

Supplementary concepts

  • Cartilage-hair hypoplasia