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EMBO J. 1995 Sep 1;14(17):4350-6.

Base pairing between U3 and the pre-ribosomal RNA is required for 18S rRNA synthesis.

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Gene Expression Programme, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


The nucleolus, the site of pre-ribosomal RNA (pre-rRNA) synthesis and processing in eukaryotic cells, contains a number of small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs). Yeast U3 snoRNA is required for the processing of 18S rRNA from larger precursors and contains a region complementary to the pre-rRNA. Substitution mutations in the pre-rRNA which disrupt this base pairing potential are lethal and prevent synthesis of 18S rRNA. These mutant pre-rRNAs show defects in processing which closely resemble the effects of genetic depletion of components of the U3 snoRNP. Co-expression of U3 snoRNAs which carry compensatory mutations allows the mutant pre-rRNAs to support viability and synthesize 18S rRNA at high levels. Pre-rRNA processing steps which are blocked by the external transcribed spacer region mutations are largely restored by expression of the compensatory U3 mutants. Pre-rRNA processing therefore requires direct base pairing between snoRNA and the substrate. Base pairing with the substrate is thus a common feature of small RNAs involved in mRNA and rRNA maturation.

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