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RNA. 2002 May;8(5):579-86.

Branchpoint selection in the splicing of U12-dependent introns in vitro.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06536, USA.


In metazoans, splicing of introns from pre-mRNAs can occur by two pathways: the major U2-dependent or the minor U12-dependent pathways. Whereas the U2-dependent pathway has been well characterized, much about the U12-dependent pathway remains to be discovered. Most of the information regarding U12-type introns has come from in vitro studies of a very few known introns of this class. To expand our understanding of U12-type splicing, especially to test the hypothesis that the simple base-pairing mechanism between the intron and U12 snRNA defines the branchpoint of U12-dependent introns, additional in vitro splicing substrates were created from three putative U12-type introns: the third intron of the Xenopus RPL1 a gene (XRP), the sixth intron of the Xenopus TFIIS.oA gene (XTF), and the first intron of the human Sm E gene (SME). In vitro splicing in HeLa nuclear extract confirmed U12-dependent splicing of each of these introns. Surprisingly, branchpoint mapping of the XRP splicing intermediate shows use of the upstream rather than the downstream of two consecutive adenosines within the branchpoint sequence (BPS), contrary to the prediction based on alignment with the sixth intron of human P120, a U12-dependent intron whose branch site was previously determined. Also, in the SME intron, the position of the branchpoint A residue within the region base paired with U12 differs from that in P120 and XTF. Analysis of these three additional introns therefore rules out simple models for branchpoint selection by the U12-type spliceosome.

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