The U1 snRNP base pairs with the 5′ splice site within a penta-snRNP complex

Hadar Malca, Noam Shomron, Gil Ast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognition of the 5′ splice site is an important step in mRNA splicing. To examine whether U1 approaches the 5′ splice site as a solitary snRNP or as part of a multi-snRNP complex, we used a simplified in vitro system in which a short RNA containing the 5′ splice site sequence served as a substrate in a binding reaction. This system allowed us to study the interactions of the snRNPs with the 5′ splice site without the effect of other cis-regulatory elements of precursor mRNA. We found that in HeLa cell nuclear extracts, five spliceosomal snRNPs form a complex that specifically binds the 5′ splice site through base pairing with the 5′ end of U1. This system can accommodate RNA-RNA rearrangements in which U5 replaces U1 binding to the 5′ splice site, a process that occurs naturally during the splicing reaction. The complex in which U1 and the 5′ splice site are base paired sediments in the 200S fraction of a glycerol gradient together with all five spliceosomal snRNPs. This fraction is functional in mRNA spliceosome assembly when supplemented with soluble nuclear proteins. The results argue that U1 can bind the 5′ splice site in a mammalian preassembled penta-snRNP complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3442-3455
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2003


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