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Nature. 1989 Jan 5;337(6202):87-90.

The gene for the U6 small nuclear RNA in fission yeast has an intron.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


The small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) are a class of metabolically stable small RNAs present in the nuclei of eukaryotic cells. In mammalian cells, there are six major molecular species (U1 to U6 snRNA), which are complexed with proteins, forming small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles, snRNPs. Of these, the U1, U2, U4, U5, U6 snRNPs are thought to participate in pre-mRNA splicing as part of the spliceosome. Here, we describe the characterization of the gene coding for the Schizosaccharomyces pombe U6 snRNA. Unexpectedly, the Schiz. pombe U6 RNA gene was found to contain an intron-like sequence of 50 base pairs. Northern blot analysis and RNA sequencing revealed that this intron-like sequence is precisely removed from the transcript. The mature U6 RNA of Schiz. pombe has 77% sequence homology with the mammalian U6 RNA. In Schiz. pombe, it is possible that U6 RNA is not only involved in pre-mRNA splicing, but is also a splicing substrate. This is the first report of an intron in a snRNA gene.

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