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RNA. 2008 Dec;14(12):2657-70. doi: 10.1261/rna.1312808. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

Flexibility in the site of exon junction complex deposition revealed by functional group and RNA secondary structure alterations in the splicing substrate.

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


The exon junction complex (EJC) is critical for mammalian nonsense-mediated mRNA decay and translational regulation, but the mechanism of its stable deposition on mRNA is unknown. To examine requirements for EJC deposition, we created splicing substrates containing either DNA nucleotides or RNA secondary structure in the 5' exon. Using RNase H protection, toeprinting, and coimmunoprecipitation assays, we found that EJC location shifts upstream when a stretch of DNA or RNA secondary structure appears at the canonical deposition site. These upstream shifts occur prior to exon ligation and are often accompanied by decreases in deposition efficiency. Although the EJC core protein eIF4AIII contacts four ribose 2'OH groups in crystal structures, we demonstrate that three 2'OH groups are sufficient for deposition. Thus, the site of EJC deposition is more flexible than previously appreciated and efficient deposition appears spatially limited.

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