The snRNP core protein SmB and tissue-specific SmN protein are differentially distributed between snRNP particles.


The SmN protein is a tissue specific component of the small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle which is closely related to the ubiquitously expressed SmB protein but is expressed only in the brain and heart. To investigate the function of SmN, its localisation within different snRNP particles was investigated using a range of anti-snRNP monoclonal antibodies. SmN and SmB were found to exhibit different patterns of association with snRNP particles in two cell lines, ND7 and F9 which express SmN. In both cases, SmN was found to be present in the U-2 snRNP but was excluded from the U-1 snRNPs whereas SmB was present in both U-1 and U-2 snRNPs. Data from transfected 3T3 mouse fibroblasts cell lines artificially expressing a low level of SmN also confirm this observation. In contrast, SmN was found to be an integral component of both the U-1 and U-2 snRNPs in both 3T3 cells artificially expressing high levels of SmN and in adult rat brain which has a naturally high level of SmN expression. Taken together, the results suggest that the pre-U1 snRNP particle has a lower affinity for SmN than for SmB. Thus, SmN expressed at low levels incorporates into U2, but SmN expressed at high levels incorporates into both U1 and U2 snRNPs and replaces SmB. The significance of these effects is discussed in terms of the potential role played by SmN in constitutive and alternative splicing pathways in neuronal cells.

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