Forks in the tracks: Group II introns, spliceosomes, telomeres and beyond. Academic Article uri icon


  • Group II introns are large catalytic RNAs that form a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex by binding to an intron-encoded protein (IEP). The IEP, which facilitates both RNA splicing and intron mobility, has multiple activities including reverse transcriptase. Recent structures of a group II intron RNP complex and of IEPs from diverse bacteria fuel arguments that group II introns are ancestrally related to eukaryotic spliceosomes as well as to telomerase and viruses. Furthermore, recent structural studies of various functional states of the spliceosome allow us to draw parallels between the group II intron RNP and the spliceosome. Here we present an overview of these studies, with an emphasis on the structure of the IEPs in their isolated and RNA-bound states and on their evolutionary relatedness. In addition, we address the conundrum of the free, albeit truncated IEPs forming dimers, whereas the IEP bound to the intron ribozyme is a monomer in the mature RNP. Future studies needed to resolve some of the outstanding issues related to group II intron RNP function and dynamics are also discussed.

publication date

  • December 2016