We have investigated the role played in precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) splicing by the protein pair of molecular size 72/74kDa, which are integral components of a discrete subset of heterogeneous nuclear (hn) ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) named large heterogeneous nuclear RNP (LH-nRNP). This 72/74kDa pair of proteins has been shown to belong to the hnRNP M group, and are referred to as 72/74(M). By applying specific immunoprecipitation assays in a consecutive series of splicing reactions in vitro, the antigenic 72/74(M) protein species were found to associate with the pre-mRNA and not the intermediate or final products of splicing. Kinetic studies, combined with isolation of pre-spliceosomal and spliceosomal complexes from the splicing reaction, indicated a loose association of 72/74(M) with both the initially formed H assembly and the first splicing-committed E complex. Stable binding was seen at a later stage of the reaction, well in advance of the appearance of the first intermediate products of RNA splicing. Evidence is provided that supports the almost exclusive association of 72/74(M) with pre-mRNA within the pre-spliceosomal A complex. This dynamic binding appeared to involve pre-mRNA sites similar to those of spliceosomal U1 and U2 small nuclear RNP complexes. Moreover, a preferential binding to a truncated RNA containing the 5′ exon—intron part, rather than the intron—3′ exon part, of pre-mRNA was observed.
Abbreviations used: pre-mRNA, precursor mRNA; (hn)RNP, (heterogeneous nuclear) ribonucleoprotein; snRNP, small nuclear RNP; LH-nRNP, large heterogeneous nuclear RNP.
Present address: Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, Scotland, U.K.