Bacterial ribonucleases and their roles in RNA metabolism

David H. Bechhofer, Murray P. Deutscher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Ribonucleases (RNases) are mediators in most reactions of RNA metabolism. In recent years, there has been a surge of new information about RNases and the roles they play in cell physiology. In this review, a detailed description of bacterial RNases is presented, focusing primarily on those from Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, the model Gram-negative and Gram-positive organisms, from which most of our current knowledge has been derived. Information from other organisms is also included, where relevant. In an extensive catalog of the known bacterial RNases, their structure, mechanism of action, physiological roles, genetics, and possible regulation are described. The RNase complement of E. coli and B. subtilis is compared, emphasizing the similarities, but especially the differences, between the two. Included are figures showing the three major RNA metabolic pathways in E. coli and B. subtilis and highlighting specific steps in each of the pathways catalyzed by the different RNases. This compilation of the currently available knowledge about bacterial RNases will be a useful tool for workers in the RNA field and for others interested in learning about this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-300
Number of pages59
JournalCritical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • B. subtilis RNases
  • E. coli RNases
  • RNA processing
  • RNase function
  • RNase mechanism
  • RNase regulation
  • RNase structure
  • mRNA decay


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