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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Apr;36(7):2257-67. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn073. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

Human branch point consensus sequence is yUnAy.

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  • 1Division of Neurogenetics, Center for Neurological Diseases and Cancer, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya 466-8550, Japan.


Yeast carries a strictly conserved branch point sequence (BPS) of UACUAAC, whereas the human BPS is degenerative and is less well characterized. The human consensus BPS has never been extensively explored in vitro to date. Here, we sequenced 367 clones of lariat RT-PCR products arising from 52 introns of 20 human housekeeping genes. Among the 367 clones, a misincorporated nucleotide at the branch point was observed in 181 clones, for which we can precisely pinpoint the branch point. The branch points were comprised of 92.3% A, 3.3% C, 1.7% G and 2.8% U. Our analysis revealed that the human consensus BPS is simply yUnAy, where the underlined is the branch point at position zero and the lowercase pyrimidines ('y') are not as well conserved as the uppercase U and A. We found that the branch points are located 21-34 nucleotides upstream of the 3' end of an intron in 83% clones. We also found that the polypyrimidine tract spans 4-24 nucleotides downstream of the branch point. Our analysis demonstrates that the human BPSs are more degenerative than we have expected and that the human BPSs are likely to be recognized in combination with the polypyrimidine tract and/or the other splicing cis-elements.

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