Research Articles

An early hierarchic role of U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein in spliceosome assembly

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Science  18 Nov 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4881, pp. 1028-1035
DOI: 10.1126/science.2973660


Splicing of nuclear precursor messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) occurs on a large ribonucleoprotein complex, the spliceosome. Several small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNP's) are subunits of this complex that assembles on the pre-mRNA. Although the U1 snRNP is known to recognize the 5' splice site, its roles in spliceosome formation and splice site alignment have been unclear. A new affinity purification method for the spliceosome is described which has provided insight into the very early stages of spliceosome formation in a yeast in vitro splicing system. Surprisingly, the U1 snRNP initially recognizes sequences at or near both splice junctions in the intron. This interaction must occur before the other snRNP's (U2, U4, U5, and U6) can join the complex. The results suggest that interaction of the two splice site regions occurs at an early stage of spliceosome formation and is probably mediated by U1 snRNP and perhaps other factors.