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Coupling of spliceosome complexity to intron diversity

  • Author(s): Sales-Lee, Jade
  • Advisor(s): Madhani, Hiten D
  • et al.

We determined that over 60 spliceosomal proteins are conserved between many fungal species and humans but were lost during the evolution of S. cerevisiae, an intron-poor yeast with unusually rigid splicing signals.  We analyzed null mutations in a subset of these factors, most of which had not been investigated previously, in the intron-rich yeast Cryptococcus neoformans.  We found they govern splicing efficiency of introns with divergent spacing between intron elements.  Importantly, most of these factors also suppress usage of weak nearby cryptic/alternative splice sites.  Among these, orthologs of GPATCH1 and the helicase DHX35 display correlated functional signatures and copurify with each other as well as components of catalytically active spliceosomes, identifying a conserved G-patch/helicase pair that promotes splicing fidelity.  We propose that a significant fraction of spliceosomal proteins in humans and most eukaryotes are involved in limiting splicing errors, potentially through kinetic proofreading mechanisms, thereby enabling greater intron diversity. 

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