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A model for DHX15 mediated disassembly of A-complex spliceosomes


A critical step of pre-mRNA splicing is the recruitment of U2 snRNP to the branch point sequence of an intron. U2 snRNP conformation changes extensively during branch helix formation, and several RNA-dependent ATPases are implicated in the process. However, the molecular mechanisms involved remain to be fully dissected. We took advantage of the differential nucleotide triphosphates requirements for DExD/H-box enzymes to probe their contributions to in vitro spliceosome assembly. Both ATP and GTP hydrolysis support the formation of A-complex, indicating the activity of a DEAH-enzyme because DEAD-enzymes are selective for ATP. We immunodepleted DHX15 to assess its involvement, and although splicing efficiency decreases with reduced DHX15, A-complex accumulation incongruently increases. DHX15 depletion also results in the persistence of the atypical ATP-independent interaction between U2 snRNP and a minimal substrate that is otherwise destabilized in the presence of either ATP or GTP. These results lead us to hypothesize that DHX15 plays a quality control function in U2 snRNP's engagement with an intron. In efforts to identify the RNA target of DHX15, we determined that an extended polypyrimidine tract is not necessary for disruption of the atypical interaction between U2 snRNP and the minimal substrate. We also examined U2 snRNA by RNase H digestion and identified nucleotides in the branch binding region that become accessible with both ATP and GTP hydrolysis, again implicating a DEAH-enzyme. Together, our results demonstrate that multiple ATP-dependent rearrangements are likely involved in U2 snRNP addition to the spliceosome and that DHX15 may have an expanded role in maintaining splicing fidelity.

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