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An Investigation of a Role for U2 snRNP Spliceosomal Components in Regulating Transcription


There is mounting evidence to suggest that the synthesis of pre-mRNA transcripts and their subsequent splicing are coordinated events. Previous studies have implicated the mammalian spliceosomal U2 snRNP as having a novel role in stimulating transcriptional elongation in vitro through interactions with the elongation factors P-TEFb and Tat-SF1; however, the mechanism remains unknown [1]. These factors are conserved in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a fact that suggests that a similar interaction may occur in yeast to stimulate transcriptional elongation in vivo. To address this possibility we have looked for evidence of a role for the yeast Tat-SF1 homolog, Cus2, and the U2 snRNA in regulating transcription. Specifically, we have performed a genetic analysis to look for functional interactions between Cus2 or U2 snRNA and the P-TEFb yeast homologs, the Bur1/2 and Ctk1/2/3 complexes. In addition, we have analyzed Cus2-deleted or -overexpressing cells and U2 snRNA mutant cells to determine if they show transcription-related phenotypes similar to those displayed by the P-TEFb homolog mutants. In no case have we been able to observe phenotypes consistent with a role for either spliceosomal factor in transcription elongation. Furthermore, we did not find evidence for physical interactions between the yeast U2 snRNP factors and the P-TEFb homologs. These results suggest that in vivo, S. cerevisiae do not exhibit functional or physical interactions similar to those exhibited by their mammalian counterparts in vitro. The significance of the difference between our in vivo findings and the previously published in vitro results remains unclear; however, we discuss the potential importance of other factors, including viral proteins, in mediating the mammalian interactions.

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