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12.3: Multiple Mechanisms are Used for Splicing Different Types of Introns

Different Types of Introns

  1. pre‑tRNA
  2. group I, group II: Introns in fungal mitochondrial genes and in plastid (chloroplast) genes have been grouped into two different groups based on different consensus sequences found in the introns. As we will see below, the group II introns have a mechanism for splicing that is similar to that of pre‑mRNA.
  3. pre‑mRNA

In all cases, splicing will remove the introns and join the exons to give the mature RNA.

Table. Features of splicing for different types of introns
Class Distribution Sequence Distinguishing feature Mechanism
pre-tRNA yeast to mammals very short (10-20 nucleotides) requires ATP cut, kinase, ligase
group I fungal mitochondria, plastids, pre-rRNA in Tetrahy mena characteristic consensus self-splicing, G nucleot(s)ide to initiate phosphoester transfer
group II fungal mitochondria, plastids characteristic consensus can self-splice, internal A nucleotide to initiate phosphoester transfer
pre-mRNA yeast to mammals 5' GU...AG 3' spliceosome (ATP for assembly), internal A nucleotide to initiate phosphoester transfer

2. Splicing of pre‑tRNAs

Some precursor tRNAs contain short introns (only 10 to 20 nucleotides) with no apparent consensus sequences. These short introns are removed in a series of steps catalyzed by enzymes that include an endonuclease, a kinase and a ligase. Because the endonuclease generates a 2’, 3’ cyclic phosphodiester product, an additional phosphodiesterase is needed to open the cyclic phosphodiester to provide the 3’ hydroxyl for the ligase reaction. In addition, the 2’-phosphate (product of the phosphodiesterase) must be removed by a phosphatase. This process uses two ATPs for every splicing event.


Fig. 3.3.9. Steps in splicing of pre-tRNA.