The RNA-mediated gene silencing pathways are evolutionarily conserved processes. They highlight a fundamental role of short RNAs in eukaryotic gene regulation and antiviral defense. Recently three distinct small RNA-directed silencing pathways are observed, such as the destruction of mRNA via siRNA, inhibition of mRNA translation via miRNA, and epigenetic gene silencing via siRNA. It was also found that in these pathways, the members of ribonuclease III family play important roles in diverse RNA maturation and decay. Here we investigated the evolution of RNase III nucleases, Dicer as representative, to further figure out the evolutionary relationship of these three gene silencing pathways. With the advantage of using genomic sequences as the subject in homolog search, in un-annotated genomic regions, we were able to detect possible candidates for 3 functional domains and genes of dicer and drosha. Moreover, we found that prokaryotes including eubacteria and archaea lack completely the PAZ domain of Dicer. These results show the taxonomic-dependent evolution of the RNA-mediated gene silencing pathways.
- Epigenetic gene silencing
- Nuclease domain
- PAZ domain
- Posttranscriptional gene silencing
- RNase III enzyme
- Small-RNA guided gene silencing pathway
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