Cellular RNAs: Varied Roles


In the cell, there are three major types of RNA directly involved in protein synthesis. In addition, many other cellular RNAs also play important functions.

Keywords: snRNA; snoRNA; SRP RNA; RNA modification; spliceosome

Figure 1.

A comparison of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic ribosomal RNAs. The large subunit (LSU) is shown in blue and the small subunit (SSU) is shown in yellow. (a) In prokaryotes there are three types of rRNA: 5S and 23S rRNAs in LSU, 16S rRNA in SSU. (b) In eukaryotes there are four types of rRNA: 5S, 5.8S and 28S rRNAs in LSU, 18S rRNA in SSU.

Figure 2.

A simplified view of the spliceosome assembly and rearrangement. U1 snRNPs binds to the 5′ splice site, U2 subsequently binds to the branch site and then U4/U5/U6 triple snRNPs join in. After a dynamic rearrangement, U1 and U4 are destabilized, and the spliceosome is activated for the two steps of cleavage–ligation event.

Figure 3.

Schematic representation of box C/D and box ACA snoRNAs in directing 2′‐O‐methylation and pseudouridine (Ψ) formation. (a) Box C/D snoRNA directs 2′‐O‐methylation. (b) Box ACA snoRNA directs pseudouridine formation. Each box ACA snoRNA may contain one or both of the internal loop structure, called ‘pseudouridylation pocket’. Modified from Tollervey D and Kiss T (1997) Current Opinion in Cell Biology9: 337–342.


Further Reading

Baserga SJ and Steitz JA (1993) The diverse world of small ribonucleoproteins. In: Gesteland RF and Atkins JF (eds) The RNA World, pp. 359–382. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Grosjean H and Benne R (1998) Modification and Editing of RNA. Washington, DC: ASM Press.

Sharp PA (1994) Split genes and RNA splicing. Cell 77: 805–815.

Simons RW and Grunberg‐Manago M (1998) RNA Structure and Function. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Soll D and RajBhandary UL (1995) tRNA: Structure, Biosynthesis, and Function. Washington, DC: ASM Press.

Staley JP and Guthrie C (1998) Mechanical devices of the spliceosome: motors, clocks, springs and things. Cell 92: 315–326.

Tollervey D and Kiss T (1997) Function and synthesis of small nucleolar RNAs. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 9: 337–342.

Walter P and Johnson AE (1994) Signal sequence recognition and protein targeting to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Annual Review of Cell Biology 10: 87–119.

Zimmermann RA and Dahlberg AE (1996) Ribosomal RNA Structure, Evolution, Processing, and Function in Protein Biosynthesis. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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Gu, Jian, and Reddy, Ram(Apr 2001) Cellular RNAs: Varied Roles. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000873]