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Exp Cell Res. 2004 May 15;296(1):51-6.

The SMN complex.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6148, USA.


The survival of motor neurons (SMN) protein is the product of the disease-determining gene of the neurodegenerative disorder spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). SMN is part of a stable multiprotein complex that is found in all metazoan cells in the cytoplasm and in nuclear Gems. The SMN complex contains, in addition to SMN, at least six other proteins, named Gemins2-7, and plays an essential role in the assembly of the spliceosomal small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs). Through its binding to specific sequences in the snRNAs, the SMN complex surveys the correct identity of the target RNAs and facilitates snRNP assembly. Based on its ability to interact with several other protein and RNA components of cellular RNPs, it is likely that the SMN complex functions as an assemblyosome in the formation of diverse RNP particles, some of which may be of particular importance to the motor neuron. A detailed understanding of the cellular roles of the SMN complex may help the development of therapeutic strategies for this neurodegenerative disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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