Molecular characterization of a mouse cDNA encoding Dicer, a ribonuclease III ortholog involved in RNA interference
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Members of the ribonuclease III superfamily of double-stranded(ds)-RNA-specific endoribonucleases participate in diverse cellular RNA maturation and degradation pathways. A recently identified eukaryotic RNase III family member, named ``Dicer'', functions in the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway by producing 21–23 bp dsRNAs which target the selective destruction of homologous RNAs. RNAi is operative in animals, plants, and fungi, where it is proposed to inhibit viral reproduction and retroposon movement, as well as to participate in developmental pathways. RNAi functions in mammalian cells, including mouse oocytes and embryos. This article reports the cDNA sequence characterization and expression analysis of the mouse Dicer ortholog. On the basis of the cDNA sequence, the Dicer polypeptide is 1906 amino acids and has a predicted molecular mass of 215 kDa. Mouse Dicer contains a DExH/DEAH helicase motif; a PAZ domain; a tandem repeat of RNase III catalytic domain sequences; and a dsRNA-binding motif. The Dicer gene maps to a single locus on the distal portion of mouse Chromosome (Chr) 12. The Dicer transcript is expressed from the embryonic through adult stages of development. The Dicer transcript is also present in a wide variety of adult mouse organs. The highly conserved set of functional domains and the occurrence of a single-copy gene strongly indicate that the encoded protein is the RNase III ortholog responsible for dsRNA processing in the RNAi pathway.
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