The gene coding for small ribosomal subunit RNA in the basidiomycete Ustilago maydis contains a group I intron.

The nucleotide sequence of the gene coding for small ribosomal subunit RNA in the basidiomycete Ustilago maydis was determined. It revealed the presence of a group I intron with a length of 411 nucleotides. This is the third occurrence of such an intron discovered in a small subunit rRNA gene encoded by a eukaryotic nuclear genome. The other two occurrences are in Pneumocystis carinii, a fungus of uncertain taxonomic status, and Ankistrodesmus stipitatus, a green alga. The nucleotides of the conserved core structure of 101 group I intron sequences present in different genes and genome types were aligned and their evolutionary relatedness was examined. This revealed a cluster including all group I introns hitherto found in eukaryotic nuclear genes coding for small and large subunit rRNAs. A secondary structure model was designed for the area of the Ustilago maydis small ribosomal subunit RNA precursor where the intron is situated. It shows that the internal guide sequence pairing with the intron boundaries fits between two helices of the small subunit rRNA, and that minimal rearrangement of base pairs suffices to achieve the definitive secondary structure of the 18S rRNA upon splicing.

De Wachter, R., Neefs, J.-M., Goris, A., Van de Peer, Y. (1992) The gene coding for small ribosomal subunit RNA in the basidiomycete Ustilago maydis contains a group I intron. Nucleic Acids Res. 20(6):1251-7.









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