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Mol Cell Biol. 1994 Mar;14(3):2180-90.

Architecture of the U5 small nuclear RNA.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


We have used comparative sequence analysis and deletion analysis to examine the secondary structure of the U5 small nuclear RNA (snRNA), an essential component of the pre-mRNA splicing apparatus. The secondary structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae U5 snRNA was studied in detail, while sequences from six other fungal species were included in the phylogenetic analysis. Our results indicate that fungal U5 snRNAs, like their counterparts from other taxa, can be folded into a secondary structure characterized by a highly conserved stem-loop (stem-loop 1) that is flanked by a moderately conserved internal loop (internal loop 1). In addition, several of the fungal U5 snRNAs include a novel stem-loop structure (ca. 30 nucleotides) that is adjacent to stem-loop 1. By deletion analysis of the S. cerevisiae snRNA, we have demonstrated that the minimal U5 snRNA that can complement the lethal phenotype of a U5 gene disruption consists of (i) stem-loop 1, (ii) internal loop 1, (iii) a stem-closing internal loop 1, and (iv) the conserved Sm protein binding site. Remarkably, all essential, U5-specific primary sequence elements are encoded by a 39-nucleotide domain consisting of stem-loop 1 and internal loop 1. This domain must, therefore, contain all U5-specific sequences that are essential for splicing activity, including binding sites for U5-specific proteins.

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