Identification of a U2/U6 helix la mutant that influences 3' splice site selection during nuclear pre-mRNA splicing.RNA. 2000 Aug; 6(8):1120-30.RNA
Base substitutions in U2/U6 helix I, a conserved base-pairing interaction between the U6 and U2 snRNAs, have previously been found to specifically block the second catalytic step of nuclear pre-mRNA splicing. To further assess the role of U2/U6 helix I in the second catalytic step, we have screened mutations in U2/U6 helix I to identify those that influence 3' splice site selection using a derivative of the yeast actin pre-mRNA. In these derivatives, the spacing between the branch site adenosine and 3' splice site has been reduced from 43 to 12 nt and this results in enhanced splicing of mutants in the conserved 3' terminal intron residue. In this context, mutation of the conserved 3' intron terminal G to a C also results in the partial activation of a nearby cryptic 3' splice site with U as the 3' terminal intron nucleotide. Using this highly sensitive mutant substrate, we have identified a mutation in the U6 snRNA (U57A) that significantly increases the selection of the cryptic 3' splice site over the normal 3' splice site and augments its utilization relative to that observed with the wild-type U2 or U6 snRNAs. In a previous study, we found that the same U6 mutation suppressed the effects of an A-to-G branch site mutation in an allele-specific fashion. The ability of U6-U57 mutants to influence the fidelity of both branch site and 3' splice site recognition suggests that this nucleotide may participate in the formation of the active site(s) of the spliceosome.