Differences observed between plant and animal pre mRNA splicing may be the result of primary or secondary structure differences in small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). A cDNA library of pea snRNAs was constructed from anti-trimethylguanosine (m32,2,7G) immunoprecipitated pea nuclear RNA. The cDNA library was screened using oligo-deoxyribonucleotide probes specific for the U1, U2, U4 and U5 snRNAs. cDNA clones representing U1, U2, U4 and U5 snRNAs expressed in seedling tissue have been isolated and sequenced. Comparison of the pea snRNA variants with other organisms suggest that functionally important primary sequences are conserved phylogenetically even though the overall sequences have diverged substantially. Structural variations in U1 snRNA occur in regions required for U1-specific protein binding. In light of this sequence analysis, it is clear that the dicot snRNA variants do not differ in sequences implicated in RNA:RNA interactions with pre-mRNA. Instead, sequence differences occur in regions Implicated in the binding of small ribonucieoproteins (snRNPs) to snRNAs and may result in the formation of unique snRNP particles.
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