Coupling of Tetrahymena ribosomal RNA splicing to beta-galactosidase expression in Escherichia coli

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Science  10 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4700, pp. 719-722
DOI: 10.1126/science.2986286


Splicing of the Tetrahymena ribosomal RNA precursor is mediated by the folded structure of the RNA molecule and therefore occurs in the absence of any protein in vitro. The Tetrahymena intervening sequence (IVS) has been inserted into the gene for the alpha-donor fragment of beta-galactosidase in a recombinant plasmid. Production of functional beta-galactosidase is dependent on RNA splicing in vivo in Escherichia coli. Thus RNA self-splicing can occur at a rate sufficient to support gene expression in a prokaryote, despite the likely presence of ribosomes on the nascent RNA. The beta-galactosidase messenger RNA splicing system provides a useful method for screening for splicing-defective mutations, several of which have been characterized.