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Powering a two-stroke RNA engine

The spliceosome, the ribonucleoprotein complex that removes introns from precursor messenger RNAs, is thought to undergo conformational changes between two alternative states to catalyze the two steps of the splicing reaction, a model that resembles ribosomal transfer RNA decoding. Following very different strategies, two papers provide new insights into how core components of the spliceosome and regulatory factors containing arginine/serine-rich domains with RNA chaperone activity can facilitate these conformational changes.

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Figure 1: The two chemical steps leading to intron removal and splicing of exons in pre-mRNA.
Figure 2: Schematic model of the spliceosome conformation at each catalytic step.


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Vilardell, J., Valcárcel, J. Powering a two-stroke RNA engine. Nat Struct Mol Biol 14, 574–576 (2007).

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