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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Sep-Oct;1789(9-10):624-33. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2009.08.010. Epub 2009 Sep 3.

Spliceosome structure: piece by piece.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H7.


Processing of pre-mRNAs by RNA splicing is an essential step in the maturation of protein coding RNAs in eukaryotes. Structural studies of the cellular splicing machinery, the spliceosome, are a major challenge in structural biology due to the size and complexity of the splicing ensemble. Specifically, the structural details of splice site recognition and the architecture of the spliceosome active site are poorly understood. X-ray and NMR techniques have been successfully used to address these questions defining the structure of individual domains, isolated splicing proteins, spliceosomal RNA fragments and recently the U1 snRNP multiprotein.RNA complex. These results combined with extant biochemical and genetic data have yielded important insights as well as posing fresh questions with respect to the regulation and mechanism of this critical gene regulatory process.

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