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Genetics. 1994 Jul;137(3):677-87.

Genetic interactions between the yeast RNA helicase homolog Prp16 and spliceosomal snRNAs identify candidate ligands for the Prp16 RNA-dependent ATPase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0448.


Pre-mRNA splicing occurs in a large and dynamic ribonucleoprotein complex, the spliceosome. Several protein factors involved in splicing are homologous to a family of RNA-dependent ATPases, the so-called DEAD/DEAH proteins. A subset of these factors exhibit RNA helicase activity in vitro. The DEAD/DEAH proteins involved in splicing are thought to mediate RNA conformational rearrangements during spliceosome assembly. However, the RNA ligands for these factors are currently unknown. Here, we present genetic evidence in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for a functional interaction between the DEAH protein Prp16, and the U6 and U2 spliceosomal snRNAs. Using a library of mutagenized U6 snRNA genes, we have identified 14 strong suppressors of the cold-sensitive (cs) allele, prp16-302. Remarkably, each suppressor contains a single nucleotide deletion of 1 of the 6 residues that lie immediately upstream of a sequence in U6 that interacts with the 5' splice site. Analysis of site-directed mutations revealed that nucleotide substitutions in the adjacent U2-U6 helix I structure also suppress prp16-302, albeit more weakly. The U6 suppressors tested also partially reverse the phenotype of two other cs alleles, prp16-1 and prp16-301, but not the four temperature-sensitive alleles tested. Finally, overexpression of each cs allele exacerbates its recessive growth phenotype and confers a dominant negative cs phenotype. We propose that the snRNA suppressors function by destabilizing an interaction between the U2-U6 complex and a hypothetical factor (X), which is trapped by cs mutants of PRP16. The phenotypes of overexpressed prp16 alleles are consistent with the model that this trapped interaction inhibits the dissociation of Prp16 from the spliceosome. We discuss the intriguing possibility that factor X is Prp16 itself.

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