Pre-mRNA splicing: awash in a sea of proteins

Mol Cell. 2003 Jul;12(1):5-14. doi: 10.1016/s1097-2765(03)00270-3.


What's in a spliceosome? More than we ever imagined, according to recent reports employing proteomics techniques to analyze this multi-megadalton machine. As of 1999, around 100 splicing factors were identified (Burge et al., 1999); however, that number has now nearly doubled due primarily to improved purification of spliceosomes coupled with advances in mass spectrometry analyses of complex mixtures. Gratifyingly, most of the previously identified splicing factors were found in the recent mass spec studies. Nonetheless, the number of new proteins emerging with no prior connection to splicing was surprising. Without functional validation, it would be premature to label these proteins as bona fide splicing factors. Yet many were identified multiple times in complexes purified under diverse conditions or from different organisms. Another recurring theme regards the dynamic nature of spliceosomal complexes, which may be even more intricate than previously thought.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • RNA Splicing / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / genetics
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / genetics*
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / isolation & purification
  • Spliceosomes / genetics*
  • Spliceosomes / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Nuclear
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear