How hydrolytic exoribonucleases impact human disease: Two sides of the same story

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RNAs are extremely important molecules inside the cell, which perform many different functions. For example, messenger RNAs, transfer RNAs and ribosomal RNAs are involved in protein synthesis, whereas noncoding RNAs have numerous regulatory roles. Ribonucleases (RNases) are the enzymes responsible for the processing and degradation of all types of RNAs, having multiple roles in every aspect of RNA metabolism. However, the involvement of RNases in disease is still not well understood. This review focuses on the involvement of the RNase II/RNB family of 3′–5′ exoribonucleases in human disease. This can be attributed to direct effects, whereby mutations in the eukaryotic enzymes of this family [defective in sister chromatid joining (Dis3; or Rrp44), Dis3-like exonuclease 1 (Dis3L1; or Dis3L) and Dis3-like exonuclease 2 (Dis3L2)] are associated with a disease, or indirect effects, whereby mutations in the prokaryotic counterparts of RNase II/RNB family (RNase II and/or RNase R) affect the physiology and virulence of several human pathogens. In this review, we compare the structural and biochemical characteristics of the members of the RNase II/RNB family of enzymes. The outcomes of mutations impacting enzymatic function are revisited, in terms of both the direct and indirect effects on disease. Furthermore, we also describe the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral exoribonuclease and its importance to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, RNases may be a good therapeutic target to reduce bacterial and viral pathogenicity. These are the two perspectives on RNase II/RNB family enzymes that are presented in this review.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFEBS Open Bio
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Dis3L2
  • human disease
  • pathogens
  • RNA decay
  • RNase II/RNB family
  • viral exoribonuclease


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