Essays on Science and SocietyYOUNG SCIENTIST AWARD ESSAY WINNER

Construction of a Minimal, Protein-Free Spliceosome

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Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 863-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110022

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Summary

The spliceosome is a complex and dynamic molecular machine that splices pre-messenger RNAs to mature transcripts, a crucial step in eukaryotic gene expression. In her essay that won the Young Scientist Award, Saba Valadkhan describes the construction of a minimal, protein-free spliceosome. Her work provided direct evidence for RNA catalysis in the spliceosome and settled the longstanding question of the identity of the catalytic domain. It provides an elegant example of using designed simple biological systems to address problems not amenable to other approaches.

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