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RNA. 1998 Jan;4(1):11-23.

Specific binding of an exonic splicing enhancer by the pre-mRNA splicing factor SRp55.

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Department of Biology and Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, University of California at Santa Cruz, 95064, USA.


Purine-rich exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) have been identified in many alternatively spliced exons. Alternative splicing of several ESE-containing exons has been shown to depend on subsets of the SR protein family of pre-mRNA splicing factors. In this report, we show that purified SR protein family member SRp55 by itself binds a 30-nt ESE-containing exon, the alternatively spliced exon 5 of avian cardiac troponin T. We show that purified SRp55 binds specifically to this RNA sequence with an apparent Kd of 60 nM as assayed by gel mobility retardation experiments. Mutations in the exon 5 sequence that increase or decrease exon 5 inclusion in vivo and in vitro have correspondingly different affinities for SRp55 in our assays. The exon 5 sequence contains two purine-rich motifs, common to many ESEs, and both are required for SRp55 binding. Hill plot analysis of binding titration reactions indicates that there is a cooperative binding of at least two SRp55 proteins to the exon sequence. Chemical modification interference studies using kethoxal show that SRp55 binding to exon 5 requires the N1 and/or the N2 of almost every G residue in the exon. Dimethylsulfate modification interference studies indicate that none of the N1 positions of A residues in the exon are important for binding. We postulate that SRp55 may recognize both primary sequence and RNA secondary structural elements within pre-mRNA.

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