Specific sequence features, recognized by the SMN complex, identify snRNAs and determine their fate as snRNPs

Tracey J. Golembe, Jeongsik Yong, Gideon Dreyfuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The survival of motor neurons (SMN) complex is essential for the biogenesis of spliceosomal small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) as it binds to and delivers Sm proteins for assembly of Sm cores on the abundant small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). Using the conserved snRNAs encoded by the lymphotropic Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS), we determined the specific sequence and structural features of RNAs for binding to the SMN complex and for Sm core assembly. We show that the minimal SMN complex-binding domain in snRNAs, except U1, is comprised of an Sm site (AUUUUUG) and an adjacent 3′ stem-loop. The adenosine and the first and third uridines of the Sm site are particularly critical for binding of the SMN complex, which directly contacts the backbone phosphates of these uridines. The specific sequence of the adjacent stem (7 to 12 base pairs)-loop (4 to 17 nucleotides) is not important for SMN complex binding, but it must be located within a short distance of the 3′ end of the RNA for an Sm core to assemble. Importantly, these defining characteristics are discerned by the SMN complex and not by the Sm proteins, which can bind to and assemble on an Sm site sequence alone. These findings demonstrate that the SMN complex is the identifier, as well as assembler, of the abundant class of snRNAs in cells because it is able to recognize an snRNP code that they contain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10989-11004
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Specific sequence features, recognized by the SMN complex, identify snRNAs and determine their fate as snRNPs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this