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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Dec;17(12):7178-85.

3' processing of human pre-U2 small nuclear RNA: a base-pairing interaction between the 3' extension of the precursor and an internal region.

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  • 1Cell Biology Group, Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts 01545, USA.


The spliceosomal small nuclear RNAs U1, U2, U4, and U5 are transcribed by RNA polymerase II as precursors with extensions at their 3' ends. The 3' processing of these pre-snRNAs is not understood in detail. Two pathways of pre-U2 RNA 3' processing in vitro were revealed in the present investigation by using a series of human wild-type and mutant pre-U2 RNAs. Substrates with wild-type 3' ends were initially shortened by three or four nucleotides (which is the first step in vivo), and the correct mature 3' end was then rapidly generated. In contrast, certain mutant pre-U2 RNAs displayed an aberrant 3' processing pathway typified by the persistence of intermediates representing cleavage at each internucleoside bond in the precursor 3' extension. Comparison of the wild-type and mutant pre-U2 RNAs revealed a potential base-pairing interaction between nucleotides in the precursor 3' extension and a sequence located between the Sm domain and stem-loop III of U2 RNA. Substrate processing competition experiments using a highly purified pre-U2 RNA 3' processing activity suggested that only RNAs capable of this base-pairing interaction had high affinity for the pre-U2 RNA 3' processing enzyme. The importance of this postulated base-pairing interaction between the precursor 3' extension and the internal region between the Sm domain and stem-loop III was confirmed by the results obtained with a compensatory substitution that restores the base pairing, which displayed the normal 3' processing reaction. These results implicate a precursor-specific base-paired structure involving sequences on both sides of the mature cleavage site in the 3' processing of human U2 RNA.

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