Structural Insights into the Mechanism of Group II Intron Splicing

Trends Biochem Sci. 2017 Jun;42(6):470-482. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2017.03.007. Epub 2017 Apr 21.


While the major architectural features and active-site components of group II introns have been known for almost a decade, information on the individual stages of splicing has been lacking. Recent advances in crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have provided major new insights into the structure of intact lariat introns. Conformational changes that mediate the steps of splicing and retrotransposition are being elucidated, revealing the dynamic, highly coordinated motions that are required for group II intron activity. Finally, these ribozymes can now be viewed in their larger, more natural context as components of holoenzymes that include encoded maturase proteins. These studies expand our understanding of group II intron structural diversity and evolution, while setting the stage for rigorous mechanistic analysis of RNA splicing machines.

Keywords: Group II intron; RNA structure; maturase; retrotransposition; ribozyme; spliceosome.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Introns
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA Splicing / genetics*
  • RNA, Catalytic / chemistry*
  • RNA, Catalytic / metabolism


  • RNA, Catalytic