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In genetics, splicing is a modification of genetic information after transcription, in which introns of precursor messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) are removed and exons of it are joined. Since in prokaryotic genomes introns do not exist, splicing naturally only occurs in eukaryotes. The splicing prepares the pre-mRNA to produce the mature messenger RNA (mRNA), which then undergoes translation as part of the protein synthesis to produce proteins. Splicing includes a series of biochemical reactions, which are catalyzed by the spliceosome, a complex of small nuclear ribonucleo-proteins (snRNPs).
Additional recommended knowledge
Several methods of RNA splicing occur in nature.
Spliceosomal introns often reside in eukaryotic protein-coding genes. Within the intron, a 3' splice site, 5' splice site, and branch site are required for splicing. Splicing is catalyzed by the spliceosome which is a large RNA-protein complex composed of five small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs, pronounced 'snurps' ). The RNA components of snRNPs interact with the intron and may be involved in catalysis. Two types of spliceosomes have been identified (the major and minor) which contain different snRNPs.
Self-splicing occurs for rare introns that form a ribozyme, performing the functions of the spliceosome by RNA alone. There are two kinds of self-splicing introns, Group I and Group II. Group I and II introns perform splicing similar to the spliceosome without requiring any protein. This similarity suggests that Group I and II introns may be evolutionarily related to the spliceosome. Self-splicing may also be very ancient, and may have existed in an RNA world that was present before protein. Although the two splicing mechanisms described below do not require any proteins to occur, 5 additional RNA molecules and over 50 proteins are used and hydrolyzes many ATP molecules. The splicing mechanisms use ATP in order to accurately splice mRNA's. If the cell were to not use any ATP's, the process would be highly inaccurate and many mistakes would occur. Two transesterfications characterize the mechanism in which group I introns are sliced: 1) 3'OH of a free guanine nucleoside (or one located in the intron) or a nucleotide cofactor (GMP, GDP, GTP) attacks phosphate at the 5' splice site. 2) 3'OH of the 5'OH becomes a nucleophile and the second transesterfication results in the joining of the two exons. The mechanism in which group II introns are spliced (two transesterfication reaction like group I introns) is as follows: 1)The 2'OH of a specific adenosine in the intron attacks the 5' splice site, thereby forming the lariat 2) The 3'OH of the 5' exon triggers the second transesterfication at the 3' splice site thereby joining the exons together.
tRNA (also tRNA-like) splicing is another rare form of splicing that usually occurs in tRNA. The splicing reaction involves a different biochemistry than the spliceomsomal and self-splicing pathways. Ribonucleases cleave the RNA and ligases join the exons together. This form of splicing does also not require any RNA components for catalysis.
Splicing occurs in all the kingdoms or domains of life, however, the extent and types of splicing can be very different between the major divisions. Eukaryotes splice many protein-coding messenger RNAs and some non-coding RNAs. Prokaryotes, on the other hand, splice rarely, but mostly non-coding RNAs. Another important difference between these two groups of organisms is that prokaryotes completely lack the spliceosomal pathway.
Because spliceosomal introns are not conserved in all species, there is debate concerning when spliceosomal splicing evolved. Two models have been proposed: the intron late and intron early models (see intron evolution).
Spliceosomal splicing and self-splicing involves a two-step biochemical process. Both steps involve transesterification reactions that occur between RNA nucleotides. tRNA splicing, however, is an exception and does not occur by transesterification.
Spliceosomal and self-splicing transesterification reactions occur via two sequential transesterification reactions. First, the 2'OH of a specific branch-point nucleotide within the intron that is defined during spliceosome assembly performs a nucleophilic attack on the first nucleotide of the intron at the 5' splice site forming the lariat intermediate. Second, the 3'OH of the released 5' exon then performs a nucleophilic attack at the last nucleotide of the intron at the 3' splice site thus joining the exons and releasing the intron lariat.
In many cases, the splicing process can create a range of unique proteins by varying the exon composition of the same messenger RNA. This phenomenon is then called alternative splicing.
Experimental manipulation of splicing
Splicing events can be experimentally altered by binding steric-blocking antisense oligos such as Morpholinos or Peptide nucleic acids to snRNP binding sites, to the branchpoint nucleotide that closes the lariat, or to splice-regulatory element binding sites.
Mutations in the introns or exons can prevent splicing and thus may prevent protein biosynthesis.
Not only pre-mRNA but also proteins can undergo splicing. Although the biomolecular mechanisms are different, the principle is the same, that parts of the protein, called inteins instead of introns, are removed. The remaining parts, called exteins instead of exons, are fused together. However, protein splicing has so far not been observed in humans, but in yeast.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Splicing_(genetics)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|