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Keywords:

  • pre-mRNA splicing;
  • spliceosome;
  • structure;
  • electron microscopy;
  • crystallography;
  • NMR

Abstract

Pre-mRNA splicing is a critical event in the gene expression pathway of all eukaryotes. The splicing reaction is catalyzed by the spliceosome, a huge protein-RNA complex that contains five snRNAs and hundreds of different protein factors. Understanding the structure of this large molecular machinery is critical for understanding its function. Although the highly dynamic nature of the spliceosome, in both composition and conformation, posed daunting challenges to structural studies, there has been significant recent progress on structural analyses of the splicing machinery, using electron microscopy, crystallography, and nuclear magnetic resonance. This review discusses key recent findings in the structural analyses of the spliceosome and its components and how these findings advance our understanding of the function of the splicing machinery.