Yeast U6 snRNA made by RNA polymerase II is less stable but functional

RNA. 2022 Dec;28(12):1606-1620. doi: 10.1261/rna.079328.122. Epub 2022 Oct 4.


U6 small nuclear (sn)RNA is the shortest and most conserved snRNA in the spliceosome and forms a substantial portion of its active site. Unlike the other four spliceosomal snRNAs, which are synthesized by RNA polymerase (RNAP) II, U6 is made by RNAP III. To determine if some aspect of U6 function is incompatible with synthesis by RNAP II, we created a U6 snRNA gene with RNAP II promoter and terminator sequences. This "U6-II" gene is functional as the sole source of U6 snRNA in yeast, but its transcript is much less stable than U6 snRNA made by RNAP III. Addition of the U4 snRNA Sm protein binding site to U6-II increased its stability and led to formation of U6-II•Sm complexes. We conclude that synthesis of U6 snRNA by RNAP III is not required for its function and that U6 snRNPs containing the Sm complex can form in vivo. The ability to synthesize U6 snRNA with RNAP II relaxes sequence restraints imposed by intragenic RNAP III promoter and terminator elements and allows facile control of U6 levels via regulators of RNAP II transcription.

Keywords: RNA polymerase; snRNA; spliceosome; splicing; transcription; yeast.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • RNA Polymerase II* / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II* / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase III / genetics
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / metabolism


  • U6 small nuclear RNA
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • RNA, Small Nuclear
  • RNA Polymerase III