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RNA annealing activity is intrinsically associated with U2AF

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      U2AF is a protein that is essential for the formation of the prespliceosome complex during pre-mRNA splicing. It contains two subunits, 65 and 35 kDa, although only the 65-kDa subunit has been shown to be essential for its splicing activity. Here, we show that the 65-kDa subunit mediates the annealing of complementary single-stranded RNAs or single-stranded DNAs. This activity was shown to reverse the action of RNA helicase A, an enzyme that catalyzes the displacement of duplex RNAs. The NH2-terminal region of the 65-kDa subunit of U2AF, containing arginine-serine (RS) dipeptides and basic amino acid sequences, was shown to be essential for the annealing of complementary sequences, RNA binding, and the inhibition of RNA helicase A activity. Thus, through the combined action of U2AF and RNA helicases, duplex RNA regions can be reversibly formed and displaced. Such reactions appear to be critical for pre-mRNA splicing, translation, and transcription.

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