We have investigated the intracellular site and posttranscriptional immediacy of U1 small nuclear RNA processing and ribonucleoprotein (RNP) assembly in HeLa cells. After 30 or 45 min of labeling with [3H]uridine, a large amount of U1-related RNA radioactivity in the cytoplasm was found by using either hypotonic or isotonic homogenization buffers. The pulse-labeled cytoplasmic U1 RNA was resolved as a ladder of closely spaced bands running just behind mature-size U1 (165 nucleotides) on RNA sequencing gels, corresponding to a series of molecules between one and at least eight nucleotides longer than mature U1. They were further identified as U1 RNA sequences by gel blot hybridization with cloned U1 DNA. The ladder of cytoplasmic U1 RNA bands reacted with both RNP and Sm autoimmune sera and with a monoclonal Sm antibody, indicating a cytoplasmic assembly of these U1 RNA-related molecules into complexes containing the same antigens as nuclear U1 RNP particles. The cytoplasmic molecules behave as precursors to mature nuclear U1 RNA in both pulse-chase and continuous labeling experiments. While not excluding earlier or subsequent nuclear stages, these results suggest that the cytoplasm is a site of significant U1 RNA processing and RNP assembly. This raises the possibility that nuclear-transcribed eucaryotic RNAs are always processed in the cell compartment other than in which they ultimately function, which suggests a set of precise signals regulating RNA and ribonucleoprotein traffic between nucleus and cytoplasm.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology