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Interactions between highly conserved U2 small nuclear RNA structures and Prp5p, Prp9p, Prp11p, and Prp21p proteins are required to ensure integrity of the U2 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Wells S.E., Ares M. Jr.

Binding of U2 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) to the pre-mRNA is an early and important step in spliceosome assembly. We searched for evidence of cooperative function between yeast U2 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and several genetically identified splicing (Prp) proteins required for the first chemical step of splicing, using the phenotype of synthetic lethality. We constructed yeast strains with pairwise combinations of 28 different U2 alleles with 10 prp mutations and found lethal double-mutant combinations with prp5, -9, -11, and -21 but not with prp3, -4, -8, or -19. Many U2 mutations in highly conserved or invariant RNA structures show no phenotype in a wild-type PRP background but render mutant prp strains inviable, suggesting that the conserved but dispensable U2 elements are essential for efficient cooperative function with specific Prp proteins. Mutant U2 snRNA fails to accumulate in synthetic lethal strains, demonstrating that interaction between U2 RNA and these four Prp proteins contributes to U2 snRNP assembly or stability. Three of the proteins (Prp9p, Prp11p, and Prp21p) are associated with each other and pre-mRNA in U2-dependent splicing complexes in vitro and bind specifically to synthetic U2 snRNA added to crude splicing extracts depleted of endogenous U2 snRNPs. Taken together, the results suggest that Prp9p, -11p, and -21p are U2 snRNP proteins that interact with a structured region including U2 stem loop IIa and mediate the association of the U2 snRNP with pre-mRNA.

Mol. Cell. Biol. 14:6337-6349(1994) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]