U1 SnRNP association with HnRNP involves an initial non-specific splice-site independent interaction of U1 SnRNP protein with HnRNA
Precursor mRNA is complexed with proteins in the cell nucleus to form heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP), and these hnRNPs are found associated in vivo with small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs) for the processing of pre-mRNA. In order to better characterize the ATP-independent initial association of U1 snRNP with hnRNP, an important early event in assembly of the spliceosome complex, we have determined some of the components essential to an in vitro reassociation of U1 snRNP with hnRNP. U1 snRNP reassociated in vitro with 40S hnRNP particles from HeLa cells and, similar to the in vivo hnRNP/U1 snRNP association, the in vitro interaction was sensitive to high salt concentrations. U1 snRNP also associated with in vitro reconstituted hnRNP in which bacteriophage MS2 RNA, which lacks introns, was used as the RNA component. Purified snRNA alone would not associate with the MS2 RNA-reconstituted hnRNP, however, intact U1 snRNP did interact with protein-free MS2 RNA. This indicates that the U1 snRNP proteins are required for the hnRNP/U1 snRNP association, but hnRNP proteins are not. Thus, the initial, ATP-independent association of U1 snRNP with hnRNP seems to be mediated by U1 snRNP protein(s) associating with hnRNA without requiring a splice-site sequence. This complex may then be further stabilized by intron-specific interactions and hnRNP proteins, as well as by other snRNPs.