Dicer is a ribonuclease in the RNase III family that cleaves double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and pre-microRNA (miRNA) into short double-stranded RNA fragments called small interfering RNA (siRNA) about 20-25 nucleotides long, usually with a two-base overhang on the 3' end. Dicer contains two RNase III domains and one PAZ domain; the distance between these two regions of the molecule is determined by the length and angle of the connector helix and determines the length of the siRNAs it produces. Dicer catalyzes the first step in the RNA interference pathway and initiates formation of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), whose catalytic component argonaute is an endonuclease capable of degrading messenger RNA (mRNA) whose sequence is complementary to that of the siRNA guide strand. The human version of this gene is DICER1.
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