Structure and assembly of the spliceosomal snRNPs. Novartis Medal Lecture

Biochem Soc Trans. 2001 May;29(Pt 2):15-26. doi: 10.1042/0300-5127:0290015.


The spliceosome is a macromolecular machine that carries out the excision of introns from eukaryotic pre-mRNAs and splicing together of exons. Four large RNA-protein complexes, called the U1, U2, U4/U6 and U5 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs), and some non-snRNP proteins assemble around three short conserved sequences within the intron in an ordered manner to form the active spliceosome. We aim to provide insight into the molecular details of the mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing through crystallographic studies of the snRNPs. We have solved the X-ray crystal structure of some snRNP proteins as part of either protein-protein complexes or RNA-protein complexes. These structures have provided an important insight into the overall architecture of the U1 and U2 snRNPs and the mechanisms of RNA-protein and protein-protein recognition.

Publication types

  • Lecture
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Exons / genetics
  • Humans
  • Introns / genetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA Precursors / chemistry
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / chemistry*
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Spliceosomes / chemistry*
  • Spliceosomes / genetics
  • Spliceosomes / metabolism*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear