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ID 16936

An Introduction to RNA Splicing

Nobel Laureate Dr. Rich Roberts describes RNA splicing.
Well, actually most of the time, I use an analogy to making a movie. So in bacteria, genes are just linear segments of the DNA. They have a precise start, you read the bases three at a time, and they have a precise stop. I higher organisms like man, they're not like that at all. The genes are actually split up into pieces and one has to find the little pieces that are coding and basically cut and splice them together until they end up looking exactly like a bacterial gene. And it's exactly the same process that you go through when you're making a movie. The director comes along and takes a whole bunch of clips and then goes to the editing room and they cut and splice the bits so that at the end, you have a nice coherent story. And that's exactly what happens to genes in eukaryotes. The eukaryotes perhaps found a way to make use of it and so they actually then began to use that in some sensible way, for instance, to allow one gene to make more than one protein. So this phenomenon, you find in higher organisms is that anytime you have a gene and they have a multiplex of the little coding pieces, then you can alternatively splice them. You can take some of them and miss some and join in different ways and so you can end up getting a very large number of different proteins made from a single gene. The thing called a splisosome, which is this big body of proteins that does all of this is a very complicated molecular structure. It's got many, many proteins in it and we don’t really understand what all of the individual proteins do; it's maybe sucking the RNA through and finding the bits that it has to join together. The key to splicing is you have to know where the point at which the RNA gets cut and then the bits join back together. And so if you've got a long messenger RNA that maybe has 10 or 20 different points at which splicing takes place, you can easily imagine being able to alter one of them so that either you stop splicing or you make something splice in that otherwise hadn't spliced.
Spinal muscular atrophy, SMA, RNA, mRNA, splicing, gene, genetic, DNA, antisense, motor neuron, splice, Transcription, intron, exon, pre mRNA, splicing, spliceosome, function, alternative splicing, binding site, exon 7, 5’, 3’
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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