Molecular cell, 24(2):267-78, 10, 2006. Paper Website abstract bibtex
In eukaryotes, pre-mRNA exons are interrupted by large noncoding introns. Alternative selection of exons and nucleotide-exact removal of introns are performed by the spliceosome, a highly dynamic macromolecular machine. U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP is the largest and most conserved building block of the spliceosome. By 3D electron cryomicroscopy and labeling, the exon-aligning U5 snRNA loop I is localized at the center of the tetrahedrally shaped tri-snRNP reconstructed to approximately 2.1 nm resolution in vitrified ice. Independent 3D reconstructions of its subunits, U4/U6 and U5 snRNPs, show how U4/U6 and U5 combine to form tri-snRNP and, together with labeling experiments, indicate a close proximity of the spliceosomal core components U5 snRNA loop I and U4/U6 at the center of tri-snRNP. We suggest that this central tri-snRNP region may be the site to which the prespliceosomal U2 snRNA has to approach closely during formation of the catalytic core of the spliceosome.