Novel RNA Restriction Enzymes

List of RNA Restriction Enzymes

Invention Summary:

Restriction enzymes for DNA have been well elucidated and enabled in-vitro DNA manipulation. Its significant impact on genetic engineering have led to the recent revolution in biotechnology. Several attempts towards engineering methods for specific RNA cleavage such as Ribozymes, PNAzymes and RNAse H have been developed over the years. However, each of them has some limitations such as:  low turnover rates and high production cost. Hence, there is still an unmet need for enzymes that cleave mRNAs at specific sequences, or “RNA Restriction Enzymes”.

Rutgers scientists have identified and characterized 14 enzymes which recognize specific 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-base RNA sequences and cleave them at specific sites (as shown in the table in the top right corner). These RNA restriction enzymes are mRNA endoribonuclease, which are derived from a variety of bacteria. For example, the MazF-hw recognizes and cleaves the seven-base sequence UU^ACUCA. Further, these enzymes may be engineered to alter the RNA cleavage specificity to generate an array of new RNA restriction enzymes.

These RNA restriction enzymes can be a valuable research tool, both for in vitro manipulation of mRNAs or in vivo gene silencing.  It also has the potential to be applicable to a wide range of hosts, including human, animal, plant, yeast, and bacterial cells for biomedical research, agricultural and industrial use. It may also have important implications on emerging genetic engineering trends in the future.

Market Applications:

  • In vitro RNA manipulation
  • In vivo gene silencing


  • Highly specific mRNA recognition and cleavage
  • Can be applied to a range of fields for biomedical research, agricultural and industrial purposes
  • Can be easily and inexpensively produced in E. coli

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

One patent has been issued. Available for licensing and research collaboration

Rutgers ID: S11-092
Life Sciences
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Shan Wan
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Masayori Inouye
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