Secondary structure of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae pre-U3A snoRNA and its implication for splicing efficiency.RNA. 1996 Nov; 2(11):1079-93.RNA
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae U3 snoRNA genes contain long spliceosomal introns with noncanonical branch site sequences. By using chemical and enzymatic methods to probe the RNA secondary structure and site-directed mutagenesis, we established the complete secondary structure of the U3A snoRNA precursor. This is the first determination of the complete secondary structure of an RNA spliced in a spliceosome. The peculiar cruciform structure of the U3A snoRNA 3'-terminal region is formed in the precursor RNA and the conserved Boxes B and C are accessible for binding the U3 snoRNP proteins. The intron forms a highly folded structure with a long central stem-loop structure that brings the 5' box and the branch site together. This is in agreement with the idea that secondary structure interactions are necessary for efficient splicing of long introns in yeast. The 3' splice site is in a bulged loop and the branch site sequence is single-stranded. Surprisingly, the 5' splice site is involved in a 6-base pair interaction. We used in vitro splicing experiments to show that, despite a noncanonical branch site sequence and a base paired 5' splice site, transcripts that mimic the authentic pre-U3A snoRNA are spliced very efficiently in vitro. Sequestering the 5' splice site in a more stable structure had a negative effect on splicing, which was partially compensated by converting the branch site sequence into a canonical sequence. Analysis of spliceosomal complex formation revealed a cumulative negative effect of a base pair interaction at the 5' splice site and of a deviation to the consensus sequence at the branch site on the efficiency of spliceosome formation in vitro.