The splicing of messenger RNA precursors in vitro proceeds through an intermediate that has the 5' end of the intervening sequence joined to a site near the 3' splice site. This lariat structure, which has been characterized for an adenovirus 2 major late transcript, has a branch point, with 2'-5' and 3'-5' phosphodiester bonds emanating from a single adenosine residue. The excised intervening sequence retains the branch site and terminates in a guanosine residue with a 3' hydroxyl group. The phosphate group at the splice junction between the two exons originates from the 3' splice site at the precursor.

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