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Open Access Review

Now on display: a gallery of group II intron structures at different stages of catalysis

Marco Marcia1*, Srinivas Somarowthu1 and Anna Marie Pyle123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA

2 Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA

3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA

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Mobile DNA 2013, 4:14  doi:10.1186/1759-8753-4-14

Published: 1 May 2013

Abstract

Group II introns are mobile genetic elements that self-splice and retrotranspose into DNA and RNA. They are considered evolutionary ancestors of the spliceosome, the ribonucleoprotein complex essential for pre-mRNA processing in higher eukaryotes. Over a 20-year period, group II introns have been characterized first genetically, then biochemically, and finally by means of X-ray crystallography. To date, 17 crystal structures of a group II intron are available, representing five different stages of the splicing cycle. This review provides a framework for classifying and understanding these new structures in the context of the splicing cycle. Structural and functional implications for the spliceosome are also discussed.

Keywords:
Retrotransposition; Spliceosome; X-ray structures; RNA catalysis; Metal ions