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Biochemistry. 1993 May 25;32(20):5301-11.

The Leptomonas collosoma spliced leader RNA can switch between two alternate structural forms.

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Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.


We have used a combination of physical and molecular biological techniques to examine the structure of Leptomonas collosoma spliced leader RNA. We confirm the general features of the previously proposed structure for the 3' half of the RNA, in which a single-stranded region is flanked by two stem loops. However, we find that the 5' half of the RNA, which contains the splice site, has two competing secondary structures which differ only slightly in stability and which can interconvert on a fast (<1 s) time scale. In the favored conformation, a stable hairpin helix is augmented by conserved complementarity between the splice site and the 5' end of the SL RNA. This putative helix has anomalous nuclease sensitivity and thermal stability features, suggesting that it is probably coupled by unknown tertiary interactions to other nucleotides in the 5' half-molecule. The structure offers intriguing parallels with RNA-RNA interactions in the mammalian splicing system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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