Group II Introns and Their Protein Collaborators
Group II introns are an abundant class of autocatalytic introns that excise themselves from precursor mRNAs. Although group II introns are catalytic RNAs, they require the assistance of proteins for efficient splicing in vivo. Proteins that facilitate splicing of organellar group II introns fall into two main categories: intron-encoded maturases and host-encoded proteins. This chapter will focus on the host proteins that group II introns recruited to ensure their function. It will discuss the great diversity of these proteins, define common features, and describe different strategies employed to achieve specificity. Special emphasis will be placed on DEAD-box ATPases, currently the best studied example of host-encoded proteins with a role in group II intron splicing. Since the exact mechanisms by which splicing is facilitated is not known for any of the host proteins, general mechanistic strategies for protein-mediated RNA folding are described and assessed for their potential role in group II intron splicing.
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