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EMBO J. 1991 Dec;10(12):3869-75.

Intramolecular base pairing between the nematode spliced leader and its 5' splice site is not essential for trans-splicing in vitro.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-4690.


The spliced leader RNAs of both trypanosomes and nematodes can form similar secondary structures where the trans-splice donor site is involved in intramolecular base pairing with the spliced leader sequence. It has been proposed that this base pairing could serve to activate autonomously the SL RNA splice donor site. Here, we have examined exon requirements for trans-splicing in a nematode cell free system. Complete disruption of secondary structure interactions at and around the trans-splice donor site did not affect the ability of the SL RNA to function in trans-splicing. In addition, the highly conserved 22 nt sequence could be productively replaced by artificial exons ranging in size from 2 to 246 nucleotides. These results reinforce the view that the 'intron' portion of the SL RNA functions as an independent Sm snRNP whose role is to deliver exon sequences to the trans-spliceosome.

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