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RNA. 1997 Feb;3(2):114-31.

Characterization of Neurospora mitochondrial group I introns reveals different CYT-18 dependent and independent splicing strategies and an alternative 3' splice site for an intron ORF.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1292, USA.


The Neurospora crassa mitochondrial tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (CYT-18 protein) functions in splicing the N. crassa mitochondrial large rRNA intron by stabilizing the catalytically active structure of the intron core. Here, a comprehensive study of N. crassa mtDNA group I introns identified two additional introns, cob-I2 and the ND1 intron, that are dependent on CYT-18 for splicing in vitro and in vivo. The other seven N. crassa mtDNA group I introns are not CYT-18-dependent and include five that self-splice and two that do not splice under any conditions examined. Some of these introns may require maturases or other proteins for efficient splicing. All but one of the non-CYT-18-dependent introns contain large peripheral extensions of the P5 stem, related to the P5abc structure that blocks CYT-18 binding to the Tetrahymena large rRNA intron. The remaining non-CYT-18-dependent intron, cob-I1, contains a long, peripheral extension of the P9 stem, denoted P9.1, which also impedes CYT-18 binding. Detailed analysis of the CYT-18-dependent ND1 intron showed that two 3' splice sites are used in vitro and in vivo. The proximal, alternative 3' splice site brings the intron open reading frame, which potentially encodes a mobility endonuclease, in frame with the upstream exon, possibly providing a means of expression. Considered together, our results show that group I introns in N. crassa mitochondria use a variety of strategies involving different proteins and/or RNA structures to assist splicing, and they support the hypothesis that CYT-18 and the peripheral RNA structure P5abc are alternative evolutionary adaptations for stabilizing the active structure of the intron core.

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