An approx. 40 S multi-component structure, consisting of all major spliceosomal small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNP) (U1, U2, U4/U6 and U5) in stable association with a large number of polypeptides, mainly in the range 50–210 kDa, has been reported to exist within rat liver nuclear extracts [Guialis, Moraitou, Patrinou-Georgoula and Dangli (1991) Nucleic Acids Res. 19, 287–296]. Using a new polyclonal antibody recognizing a 63 kDa protein component of the complex, this multi-snRNP assembly was detected within rat liver nuclear extracts as efficiently as with the antibody for the U2 snRNP-specific B´ polypeptide. The 63 kDa protein was found to correspond to the 66 kDa subunit of the splicing factor SF3a, a known integral component of the HeLa 17 S U2 snRNP. Anti-2,2,7-trimethylguanosine affinity chromatography was an easy and efficient way of purifying the multi-snRNP complex from rat liver 40 S heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle (hnRNP)-containing sucrose gradient fractions. By subsequent glycerol-gradient sedimentation, all known snRNP forms active in RNA splicing were identified among its constituents. A complex structurally similar to the rat multi-snRNP was also identified in HeLa nuclear extracts. Preservation of hnRNP–snRNP interactions was observed within HeLa 40 S fractions. Moreover, these fractions were capable of restoring splicing activity when applied in reconstitution studies to supplement a micrococcal nuclease-treated splicing extract.

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