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Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Feb;8(2):814-21.

Gel electrophoretic isolation of splicing complexes containing U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles.

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Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.


Assembly of splicing precursor RNAs into ribonucleoprotein particle (RNP) complexes during incubation in in vitro splicing extracts was monitored by a new system of RNP gel electrophoresis. The temporal pattern of assembly observed by our system was identical to that obtained by other gel and gradient methodologies. In contrast to the results obtained by other systems, however, we observed requirements of U1 small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs) and 5' splice junction sequences for formation of specific complexes and retention of U1 snRNPs within gel-fractionated complexes. Single-intron substrate RNAs rapidly assembled into slow-migrating complexes. The first specific complex (A) appeared within a minute of incubation and required ATP, 5' and 3' precursor RNA consensus sequences, and intact U1 and U2 RNAs for formation. A second complex (B) containing precursor RNA appeared after 15 min of incubation. Lariat-exon 2 and exon 1 intermediates first appeared in this complex, operationally defining it as the active spliceosome. U4 RNA was required for appearance of complex B. Released lariat first appeared in a complex of intermediate mobility (A') and subsequently in rapidly migrating diffuse complexes. Ligated product RNA was observed only in fast-migrating complexes. U1 snRNPs were detected as components of gel-isolated complexes. Radiolabeled RNA within the A and B complexes was immunoprecipitated by U1-specific antibodies under gel-loading conditions and from gel-isolated complexes. Therefore, the RNP antigen remained associated with assembled complexes during gel electrophoresis. In addition, 5' splice junction sequences within gel-isolated A and B complexes were inaccessible to RNase H cleavage in the presence of a complementary oligonucleotide. Therefore, nuclear factors that bind 5' splice junctions also remained associated with 5' splice junctions under our gel conditions.

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