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Members of the ribonuclease III superfamily of double-stranded(ds)-RNA-specific endoribonucleases participate in diverse RNA maturation and decay pathways in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. A human RNase III orthologue has been implicated in ribosomal RNA maturation. To better understand the structure and mechanism of mammalian RNase III and its involvement in RNA metabolism we determined the cDNA structure, chromosomal location, and expression patterns of mouse RNase III.


The predicted mouse RNase III polypeptide contains 1373 amino acids (~160 kDa). The polypeptide exhibits a single C-terminal dsRNA-binding motif (dsRBM), tandem catalytic domains, a proline-rich region (PRR) and an RS domain. Northern analysis and RT-PCR reveal that the transcript (4487 nt) is expressed in all tissues examined, including extraembryonic tissues and the midgestation embryo. Northern analysis indicates the presence of an additional, shorter form of the transcript in testicular tissue. Fluorescent in situ hybridization demonstrates that the mouse RNase III gene maps to chromosome 15, region B, and that the human RNase III gene maps to a syntenic location on chromosome 5p13-p14.


The broad transcript expression pattern indicates a conserved cellular role(s) for mouse RNase III. The putative polypeptide is highly similar to human RNase III (99% amino acid sequence identity for the two catalytic domains and dsRBM), but is distinct from other eukaryotic orthologues, including Dicer, which is involved in RNA interference. The mouse RNase III gene has a chromosomal location distinct from the Dicer gene.


Biology | Genetics and Genomics