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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Mar;16(3):818-28.

Invariant U2 RNA sequences bordering the branchpoint recognition region are essential for interaction with yeast SF3a and SF3b subunits.

Author information

  • 1Biology Department, Sinsheimer Laboratories, University of California, Santa Cruz 95064, USA.

Erratum in

  • Mol Cell Biol 1996 Jul;16(7):3980.


U2 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) contains a sequence (GUAGUA) that pairs with the intron branchpoint during splicing. This sequence is contained within a longer invariant sequence of unknown secondary structure and function that extends between U2 and I and stem IIa. A part of this region has been proposed to pair with U6 in a structure called helix III. We made mutations to test the function of these nucleotides in yeast U2 snRNA. Most single base changes cause no obvious growth defects; however, several single and double mutations are lethal or conditional lethal and cause a block before the first step of splicing. We used U6 compensatory mutations to assess the contribution of helix III and found that if it forms, helix III is dispensable for splicing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. On the other hand, mutations in known protein components of the splicing apparatus suppress or enhance the phenotypes of mutations within the invariant sequence that connect the branchpoint recognition sequence to stem IIa. Lethal mutations in the region are suppressed by Cus1-54p, a mutant yeast splicing factor homologous to a mammalian SF3b subunit. Synthetic lethal interactions show that this region collaborates with the DEAD-box protein Prp5p and the yeast SF3a subunits Prp9p, Prp11p, and Prp21p. Together, the data show that the highly conserved RNA element downstream of the branchpoint recognition sequence of U2 snRNA in yeast cells functions primarily with the proteins that make up SF3 rather than with U6 snRNA.

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