Pancreatic-type ribonucleases (ptRNases) comprise a class of highly conserved secretory endoribonucleases in vertebrates. The prototype of this enzyme family is ribonuclease 1 (RNase 1). Understanding the physiological roles of RNase 1 is becoming increasingly important, as engineered forms of the enzyme progress through clinical trials as chemotherapeutic agents for cancer. Here, we present an in-depth biochemical characterization of RNase 1 homologs from a broad range of mammals (human, bat, squirrel, horse, cat, mouse, and cow) and nonmammalian species (chicken, lizard, and frog). We discover that the human homolog of RNase 1 has a pH optimum for catalysis, ability to degrade double-stranded RNA, and affinity for cell-surface glycans that are distinctly higher than those of its homologs. These attributes have relevance for human health. Moreover, the functional diversification of the 10 RNase 1 homologs illuminates the regulation of extracellular RNA and other aspects of vertebrate evolution.
Keywords: RNA; enzyme activity; enzymology; molecular evolution; protein structure; ribonuclease.
© 2017 The Author(s); published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.