snRNAs as the catalysts of pre-mRNA splicing.Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2005 Dec; 9(6):603-8.CO
The spliceosome, the gigantic molecular machine that performs pre-mRNA splicing in eukaryotes, contains over 200 different proteins and five RNA molecules. The central role played by the spliceosomal RNAs in splicing has led to the hypothesis that, like the ribosome, the spliceosome is an RNA-centric enzyme and a relic from the RNA world. Recent structural studies have provided the first glimpses of the structural features of spliceosomal RNAs, and mutational analyses in vivo and in vitro have uncovered new functional roles for a catalytically essential domain. An emerging model for the active site of group II introns, a closely related class of natural ribozymes, is likely to provide a wealth of insights on structure and function of the active site of the spliceosome.