Protein-free spliceosomal snRNAs catalyze a reaction that resembles the first step of splicing

Saba Valadkhan, Afshin Mohammadi, Chaim Wachtel, James L. Manley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Splicing of introns from mRNA precursors is a two-step reaction performed by the spliceosome, an immense cellular machine consisting of over 200 different proteins and five small RNAs (snRNAs). We previously demonstrated that fragments of two of these RNAs, U6 and U2, can catalyze by themselves a splicing-related reaction, involving one of the two substrates of the first step of splicing, the branch site substrate. Here we show that these same RNAs can catalyze a reaction between RNA sequences that resemble the 5′ splice site and the branch site, the two reactants of the first step of splicing. The reaction is dependent on the sequence of the 5′ splice site consensus sequence and the catalytically essential domains of U6, and thus it resembles the authentic splicing reaction. Our results demonstrate the ability of protein-free snRNAs to recognize the sequences involved in the first splicing step and to perform splicing-related catalysis between these two pre-mRNA-like substrates. Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2300-2311
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Ribozyme
  • Spliceosome
  • Splicing
  • U6
  • snRNAs


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