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RNA. 2010 Sep;16(9):1818-31. doi: 10.1261/rna.2184010. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

A group II intron encodes a functional LAGLIDADG homing endonuclease and self-splices under moderate temperature and ionic conditions.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg R3T 2N2, Canada.


A group II intron encoding a protein belonging to the LAGLIDADG family of homing endonucleases was identified in the mitochondrial rns gene of the filamentous fungus Leptographium truncatum, and the catalytic activities of both the intron and its encoded protein were characterized. A model of the RNA secondary structure indicates that the intron is a member of the IIB1 subclass and the open reading frame is inserted in ribozyme domain III. In vitro assays carried out with two versions of the intron, one in which the open reading frame was removed and the other in which it was present, demonstrate that both versions of the intron readily self-splice at 37 degrees C and at a concentration of MgCl(2) as low as 6 mM. The open reading frame encodes a functional LAGLIDADG homing endonuclease that cleaves 2 (top strand) and 6 (bottom strand) nucleotides (nt) upstream of the intron insertion site, generating 4 nt 3' OH overhangs. In vitro splicing assays carried out in the absence and presence of the intron-encoded protein indicate that the protein does not enhance intron splicing, and RNA-binding assays show that the protein does not appear to bind to the intron RNA precursor transcript. These findings raise intriguing questions concerning the functional and evolutionary relationships of the two components of this unique composite element.

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