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nuclease nu·cle·ase (nōō'klē-ās', -āz', nyōō'-)
Any of several enzymes, such as endonuclease and exonuclease, that hydrolize nucleic acids.
any enzyme that cleaves nucleic acids. Nucleases, which belong to the class of enzymes called hydrolases, are usually specific in action, ribonucleases acting only upon ribonucleic acids (RNA) and deoxyribonucleases acting only upon deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). Some enzymes having a general action (such as phosphoesterases, which hydrolyze phosphoric acid esters) can be called nucleases because nucleic acids are susceptible to their action. Nucleases are found in both animals and plants.