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Nature. 2001 Oct 18;413(6857):701-7.

Splicing-related catalysis by protein-free snRNAs.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Sherman Fairchild Center of Life Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Removal of intervening sequences from eukaryotic messenger RNA precursors is carried out by the spliceosome, a complex assembly of five small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) and a large number of proteins. Although it has been suggested that the spliceosome might be an RNA enzyme, direct evidence for this has been lacking, and the identity of the catalytic domain of the spliceosome is unknown. Here we show that a protein-free complex of two snRNAs, U2 and U6, can bind and position a small RNA containing the sequence of the intron branch site, and activate the branch adenosine to attack a catalytically critical domain of U6 in a reaction that is related to the first step of splicing. Our data provide direct evidence for the catalytic potential of spliceosomal snRNAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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