Structure and activities of group II introns

Annu Rev Biochem. 1995;64:435-61. doi: 10.1146/


Group II introns are found in eubacteria and eubacterial-derived, organellar genomes. They have ribozymic activities, by which they direct and catalyze the splicing of the exons flanking them. This chapter reviews the secondary structure and known tertiary interactions of the ribozymic component of group II introns in relation to the problems of specifying splice sites and building a catalytic core. We pay special attention to the relationship between the transesterification and hydrolytic modes of initiating splicing and the stereospecificities of these reactions. A number of group II introns encode proteins of the reverse transcriptase family; the activity of these proteins enables the host introns to change genomic locations by mechanisms that are only beginning to be deciphered. Finally, we briefly discuss multipartite and post-transcriptionally edited group II introns, together with the intron microcosm of Euglena gracilis chloroplasts and the possible relationships between group II and spliceosome-catalyzed splicing processes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution
  • Catalysis
  • Esterification
  • Euglena / genetics
  • Euglena / metabolism
  • Hydrolysis
  • Introns*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA Editing
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA, Catalytic / chemistry
  • RNA, Catalytic / genetics
  • RNA, Catalytic / metabolism
  • Spliceosomes / metabolism


  • RNA, Catalytic