Structure analysis of the 5′ external transcribed spacer of the precursor ribosomal RNA from Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Lee Chuan C. Yeh, John C. Lee

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32 Scopus citations


Full-length precursor ribosomal RNA molecules were produced in vitro using as a template, a plasmid containing the yeast 35 S pre-rRNA gene under the control of the phage T3 promoter. The higher-order structure of the 5′-external transcribed spacer (5′ ETS) sequence in the 35 S pre-rRNA molecule was studied using dimethylsulfate, 1-cyclohexyl-3-(2-morpholinoethyl)-carbodiimide metho-p-toluenesulfonate, RNase T1 and RNase V1 as structure-sensitive probes. Modified residues were detected by primer extension. Data produced were used to evaluate several theoretical structure models predicted by minimum free-energy calculations. A model for the entire 5′ ETS region is proposed that accommodates 82% of the residues experimentally shown to be in either base-paired or single-stranded structure in the correct configuration. The model contains a high degree of secondary structure with ten stable hairpins of varying lengths and stabilities. The hairpins are composed of the Watson-Crick A · T and G · C pairs plus the non-canonical G · U pairs. Based on a comparative analysis of the 5′ ETS sequence from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, most of the base-paired regions in the proposed model appear to be phylogenetically supported. The two sites previously shown to be crosslinked to U3 snRNA as well as the previously proposed recognition site for processing and one of the early processing site (based on sequence homology to the vertebrate ETS cleavage site) are located in single-stranded regions in the model. The present folding model for the 5′ ETS in the 35 S pre-rRNA molecule should be useful in the investigations of the structure, function and processing of pre-rRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-839
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 5 1992


  • conformation
  • precursor ribosomal RNA
  • structure model
  • transcribed spacer
  • yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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