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Mol Cell Biol. 1994 May;14(5):3434-45.

Intron definition in splicing of small Drosophila introns.

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  • 1Verna and Marrs McClean Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.


Approximately half of the introns in Drosophila melanogaster are too small to function in a vertebrate and often lack the pyrimidine tract associated with vertebrate 3' splice sites. Here, we report the splicing and spliceosome assembly properties of two such introns: one with a pyrimidine-poor 3' splice site and one with a pyrimidine-rich 3' splice site. The pyrimidine-poor intron was absolutely dependent on its small size for in vivo and in vitro splicing and assembly. As such, it had properties reminiscent of those of yeast introns. The pyrimidine-rich intron had properties intermediate between those of yeasts and vertebrates. This 3' splice site directed assembly of ATP-dependent complexes when present as either an intron or exon and supported low levels of in vivo splicing of a moderate-length intron. We propose that splice sites can be recognized as pairs across either exons or introns, depending on which distance is shorter, and that a pyrimidine-rich region upstream of the 3' splice site facilitates the exon mode.

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