In trypanosomes, all mRNAs possess a spliced leader (SL) at their 5' end. SL is added to pre-mRNA via trans-splicing from a small RNA, the SL RNA. To examine structure-function aspects of the trypanosomatid SL RNA, an in vivo system was developed in the monogenetic trypanosomatid Leptomonas collosoma to analyze the function of chimeric and site-directed SL RNA mutants in trans-splicing. Stable cell lines expressing chimeric and mutated SL RNA from the authentic SL RNA regulatory unit were obtained. The chimeric RNA was expressed and assembled into an SL RNP particle, but could not serve as a substrate in splicing. Mutations in loop II and III of L. collosoma SL RNA formed the Y structure intermediate. In addition, a double SL RNA mutant in loop II, and positions 7 and 8 of the intron, also formed the Y structure intermediate, suggesting that these intron positions, although proposed to participate in the interaction of SL RNA with U5, may not be crucial for the first step of the trans-splicing reaction. A mutation in the exon located in loop I was not utilized in splicing, suggesting the importance of exon sequences for trans-splicing in trypanosomes. However, a double SL RNA mutant in loop II and exon position 31 was utilized in both steps of splicing; the mutant thus provides a model molecule for further analysis of positions essential for the function of the SL RNA.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the MINERVA Foundation, Munich/Germany, by the German Israel Foundation and by the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Center for Molecular Genetics of the Weizmann Institute of Science.