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RNase III enzymes specifically bind to and cleave double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). There are three subdivisions, known as Class 1, 2, and 3.
- Class 1 RNases III are largely found in bacteria, bacteriophage, and somefungi. Among the RNases III in the class are the rnc from E. coli, Pac1p from S. pombe, and Rnt1p from S. cerevisiae. Class 1 RNases III process precursors to ribosomal RNA, and in the case of fungi, process precursors to small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA).
- Class 2 RNases III include the Drosha family of enzymes known to function in maturation of precursors to rRNA.
- Class 3 RNases III include the Dicer family of enzymes known to function in RNA interference (RNAi).