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Genes Dev. 1998 May 1;12(9):1327-37.

A ribosomal function is necessary for efficient splicing of the T4 phage thymidylate synthase intron in vivo.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, Vienna Biocenter, 1030 Wien, Austria.


Splicing of the group I intron of the T4 thymidylate synthase (td) gene was uncoupled from translation by introducing stop codons in the upstream exon. This resulted in severe splicing deficiency in vivo. Overexpression of a UGA suppressor tRNA partially rescued splicing, suggesting that this in vitro self-splicing intron requires translation for splicing in vivo. Inhibition of translation by the antibiotics chloramphenicol and spectinomycin also resulted in splicing deficiency. Ribosomal protein S12, a protein with RNA chaperone activity, and CYT-18, a protein that stabilizes the three-dimensional structure of group I introns, efficiently rescued the stop codon mutants. We identified a region in the upstream exon that interferes with splicing. Point mutations in this region efficiently alleviate the effect of a nonsense codon. We infer from these results that the ribosome acts as an RNA chaperone to facilitate proper folding of the intron.

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