Is zucchini a phosphodiesterase or a ribonuclease?

Biomed J. 2014 Nov-Dec;37(6):369-74. doi: 10.4103/2319-4170.132909.


Zucchini (Zuc), a member of the phospholipase D (PLD) superfamily, is essential for the primary PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) biogenesis and the suppression of transposon expression, which are crucial for the genome integrity of germline cells. However, it has been ambiguous whether Zuc acts as a phosphodiesterase to produce phosphatidic acid (PA), the lipid signaling molecule, or as a nuclease. The recent three papers describing the crystal structures and functional analyses of fly and mouse Zuc proteins have elucidated that Zuc is a PLD family single-strand ribonuclease, not a phosphodiesterase, and functions in the maturation of primary piRNAs. This review will discuss in detail how the crystal structures clearly predict the function of Zuc, which is subsequently demonstrated by biochemical analysis to conclude the previous controversial discussion on the real function of Zuc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Endoribonucleases / chemistry*
  • Endoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / chemistry*
  • Ribonucleases / chemistry
  • Ribonucleases / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Endoribonucleases
  • Ribonucleases
  • Zuc protein, Drosophila
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases