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Genes Dev. 1992 Jun;6(6):1120-30.

Distinct molecular signals for nuclear import of the nucleolar snRNA, U3.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


Export to the cytoplasm of U3 RNA transcribed from a rat U3 gene injected into the nucleus of Xenopus oocytes indicates that the biogenesis of U3 RNA, like that of the previously studied Sm-precipitable nucleoplasmic snRNAs (U1, U2, U4, and U5), includes a cytoplasmic phase. The regulation of import of the U3 snRNA into the nucleus has been analyzed by injection of synthetic human U3 transcripts into the cytoplasm of Xenopus oocytes. Binding of the major autoantigenic protein of the U3 snRNP, fibrillarin, and cap trimethylation can occur in the cytoplasm, but neither are required for import. The 3'-terminal 13 nucleotides are required for optimal import and cap trimethylation and participate in a phylogenetically conserved U3 structural element, a short 3'-terminal stem. An artificial construct containing the 3'-terminal 13 nucleotides, including the 3'-terminal stem, but only 56 nucleotides of the 217 nucleotides in U3, appears to be sufficient for import. The presence of the 3'-terminal stem in all snRNAs known to be imported suggests that it might be a universal element required for nuclear import.

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