Splicing is a key process for mRNA maturation, particularly in higher eukaryotes where most protein-coding transcripts contain multiple introns. It is achieved by the concerted action of five snRNAs (small nuclear RNAs) and hundreds of accessory proteins that form the spliceosome. Although snRNAs are present in equal amounts in the spliceosome, there is an overall excess of U1 in human cells. This finding led to the opinion that U1 might be involved in processes other than splicing. Research has shown that this is indeed the case and some examples found from studies in human cell systems are described briefly in the present review.

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