Small Nuclear RNAs: RNA Sequences, Structure, and Modifications

  • Ram Reddy
  • Harris Busch


All eukaryotic cells contain multiple small nuclear RNAs, designated U-sn At present ten U-snRNAs have been identified; they account for about 1% total mammalian cellular RNA. Of these, the U1 to U8 snRNAs have been sively characterized. All the U-snRNAs contain a 5′-cap structure consis a blocked 5′-terminal pyrophosphate linkage; except for U6 RNA, a tri guanosine-containing “cap” is the 5′-end. These U-snRNAs are confined nucleus and are metabolieally stable. They are synthesized by RNA polyII. U6 snRNA, which has a non-nucleotide cap structure, is synthesized by RNA polymerase III. All the U-snRNAs are present in the cells as small ribonucleopro- tein particles (snRNPs), that are metabolically stable.

The Ul, U2, U4/U6, and U5 snRNPs are localized in the nucleoplasm and are involved in the maturation of pre-messenger RNAs as essential components of the spliceosomes. The U3 and U8 snRNPs, which are localized to the nucleolus, are implicated in processing of pre-ribosomal RNA.

The U-snRNAs have been characterized from animal cells, plant cells, smaller eukaryotes like yeasts, slime molds, and dinoflagellates. The secondary structures of individual U-snRNAs from distant species are virtually identical and some regions of primary sequence are also conserved. The detailed mechanisms of interactions between the U-snRNPs, mRNA, and rRNA precursors are currently under intense investigation.

In Addition to the U-snrnas, eukaryotic cells also contain multiple other distinct small RNAs. These RNAs, found mainly in the cytoplasm and synthesized by RNA polymerase III, are involved in the protein synthesis. Although about 20 distinct small RNAs are characterized, the functions have been clearly established for only 7SL RNA and RNase P RNA. 7SL RNA is an integral component of the signal recognition particle and RNase P RNA is part of the RNase P complex that cleaves the 5′-ends of precursor tRNA molecules. Understanding the functions of these cytoplasmic small RNAs is a challenge for the future.


HeLa Cell Slime Mold Ribonucleoprotein Particle Small Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein Small Nuclear RNAs 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ram Reddy
  • Harris Busch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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