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Genes Dev. 1991 Sep;5(9):1709-22.

Multiple processing-defective mutations in a mammalian histone pre-mRNA are suppressed by compensatory changes in U7 RNA both in vivo and in vitro.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


To study the role of base-pairing between the mammalian U7 snRNA and the highly variable histone downstream element (HDE) during the 3'-end maturation of mammalian histone pre-mRNAs, we mutated the HDE of the mouse H2A-614 gene and assayed processing in HeLa cells both in vivo and in vitro. Either a 9-nucleotide deletion or a block substitution of pyrimidines for 6 purines within the HDE abolished all 3'-end processing. Compensatory changes were introduced into a synthetic human U7 gene, whose transcripts assemble into Sm snRNPs in vivo. Suppression of the 6-purine substitution as well as a 3-purine substitution within the HDE was obtained in vivo by coexpressing the corresponding U7 suppressor RNAs and in vitro by using nuclear extracts prepared from HeLa cells containing U7 suppressor genes. Our results not only provide genetic evidence for base-pairing between the U7 snRNP and the HDE of mammalian histone pre-mRNAs but reveal an unexpected tolerance to drastic changes in the nature of the base-paired region.

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