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RNA. 1998 Oct;4(10):1216-29.

PRP16, a DEAH-box RNA helicase, is recruited to the spliceosome primarily via its nonconserved N-terminal domain.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0448, USA.


Dynamic rearrangement of RNA structure is crucial for intron recognition and formation of the catalytic core during pre-mRNA splicing. Three of the splicing factors that contain sequence motifs characteristic of the DExD/DExH-box family of RNA-dependent ATPases (Prp16, Prp22, and the human homologue of Brr2) recently have been shown to unwind RNA duplexes in vitro, providing biochemical evidence that they may direct structural rearrangements on the spliceosome. Notably, however, the unwinding activity of these proteins is sequence nonspecific, raising the question of how their functional specificity is determined. Because the highly conserved DExD/DExH-box domain in these proteins is typically flanked by one or more nonconserved domains, we have tested the hypothesis that the nonconserved regions of Prp16 determine the functional specificity of the protein. We found that the nonconserved N-terminal domain of Prp16 is (1) essential for viability, (2) required for the nuclear localization of Prp16, and (3) capable of binding to the spliceosome specifically at the step of Prp16 function. Moreover, this domain can interact with the rest of the protein to allow trans-complementation. Based on these results, we propose that the spliceosomal target of the unwinding activity of Prp16, and possibly other DExD/DExH-box splicing factors as well, is defined by factors that specifically interact with the nonconserved domains of the protein.

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