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Genetics. 2009 Jul;182(3):725-34. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.103473. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

A genetic screen for suppressors of a mutated 5' splice site identifies factors associated with later steps of spliceosome assembly.

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Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.


Many alleles of human disease genes have mutations within splicing consensus sequences that activate cryptic splice sites. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the unc-73(e936) allele has a G-to-U mutation at the first base of the intron downstream of exon 15, which results in an uncoordinated phenotype. This mutation triggers cryptic splicing at the -1 and +23 positions and retains some residual splicing at the mutated wild-type (wt) position. We previously demonstrated that a mutation in sup-39, a U1 snRNA gene, suppresses e936 by increasing splicing at the wt splice site. We report here the results of a suppressor screen in which we identify three proteins that function in cryptic splice site choice. Loss-of-function mutations in the nonessential splicing factor smu-2 suppress e936 uncoordination through changes in splicing. SMU-2 binds SMU-1, and smu-1(RNAi) also leads to suppression of e936. A dominant mutation in the conserved C-terminal domain of the C. elegans homolog of the human tri-snRNP 27K protein, which we have named SNRP-27, suppresses e936 uncoordination through changes in splicing. We propose that SMU-2, SMU-1, and SNRP-27 contribute to the fidelity of splice site choice after the initial identification of 5' splice sites by U1 snRNP.

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