Exactly how specific splice sites are recognized during the processing of complex precursor messenger RNAs is not clear. Small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs) are involved, but are not sufficient by themselves to define splice sites. Now a human protein essential for splicing in vitro, called alternative splicing factor/splicing factor 2, is shown to cooperate with the U1 snRNP particle in binding pre-mRNA. This cooperation is probably achieved by specific interactions between the arginine/serine-rich domain of the splicing factor and a similar region in a U1 snRNP-specific protein.
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