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Genes Dev. 2004 Sep 1;18(17):2074-85. Epub 2004 Aug 16.

RNA length defines RNA export pathway.

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  • 1Institute for Virus Research, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


Different RNA species are exported from the nucleus by distinct mechanisms. Among the different RNAs, mRNAs and major spliceosomal U snRNAs share several structural similarities, yet they are exported by distinct factors. We previously showed that U1 snRNAs behaved like an mRNA in nuclear export if various approximately 300-nucleotide fragments were inserted in a central position. Here we show that this export switch is dependent on the length of the insertion but independent of its position, indicating unequivocally that this switch is indeed the result of RNA length. We also show that intronless mRNAs can be progressively converted to use the U snRNA export pathway if the mRNAs are progressively shortened by deletion. In addition, immunoprecipitation experiments show that the protein composition of export RNPs is influenced by RNA length. These findings indicate that RNA length is one of the key determinants of the choice of RNA export pathway. Based on these results and previous observations, a unified model of how an RNA is committed to a specific export pathway is proposed.

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