RNA catalyses nuclear pre-mRNA splicing

Nature. 2013 Nov 14;503(7475):229-34. doi: 10.1038/nature12734. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

Abstract

In nuclear pre-messenger RNA splicing, introns are excised by the spliceosome, a dynamic machine composed of both proteins and small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). Over thirty years ago, after the discovery of self-splicing group II intron RNAs, the snRNAs were proposed to catalyse splicing. However, no definitive evidence for a role of either RNA or protein in catalysis by the spliceosome has been reported so far. By using metal rescue strategies in spliceosomes from budding yeast, here we show that the U6 snRNA catalyses both of the two splicing reactions by positioning divalent metals that stabilize the leaving groups during each reaction. Notably, all of the U6 catalytic metal ligands we identified correspond to the ligands observed to position catalytic, divalent metals in crystal structures of a group II intron RNA. These findings indicate that group II introns and the spliceosome share common catalytic mechanisms and probably common evolutionary origins. Our results demonstrate that RNA mediates catalysis within the spliceosome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Introns / genetics
  • Metals / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism*
  • RNA Splicing*
  • RNA, Fungal / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Spliceosomes / metabolism

Substances

  • Metals
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Fungal
  • RNA, Small Nuclear
  • U6 small nuclear RNA