Splicing of mRNA precursors: The role of RNAs and proteins in catalysis

Chaim Wachtel, James L. Manley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Splicing of mRNA precursors was discovered over 30 years ago. It is one of the most complex steps in gene expression and therefore must be tightly controlled to ensure that splicing occurs efficiently and accurately. Splicing takes place in a large complex, the spliceosome, which contains approximately 200 proteins and five small RNAs (U snRNAs). Since its discovery, much work has been done to elucidate the pathway of the chemical reaction as well as the proteins and RNAs involved in catalysis. A variety of studies have established the potential for U2 and U6 snRNAs to play a role in splicing catalysis, raising the possibility that the spliceosome is a ribozyme. If correct, this would point to the spliceosomal proteins playing a supporting role during splicing. On the other hand, it may be that proteins contribute more directly to the spliceosomal active site, with the highly evolutionarily conserved Prp8 protein being an excellent candidate. This review will concentrate on recent work on splicing catalysis, and on elucidating the possible roles proteins play in this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-316
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular BioSystems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


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