Abstract

Recent cloning and sequencing of one of the two Xenopus gene copies (S1b) coding for the ribosomal protein S1 has revealed that its introns III, V and VI carry a region of about 150 nt that shares an identity of 60%. We show here the presence in Xenopus oocytes and cultured cells of a 143–147 nt long RNA species encoded by these three repeated sequences on the same strand as the S1 mRNA and by at least one repeat present in the S1 a copy of the r-protein gene. We identify these RNAs as forms of the small nucleolar RNA U15 (U15 snoRNA) because of their sequence homology with an already described human U15 RNA encoded in the first intron of the human rprotein S3 gene, which is homologous to Xenopus S1. Comparison of the various Xenopus and human U15 RNA forms shows a very high conservation in some regions, but considerable divergence in others. In particular the most conserved sequences include two box C and two box D motifs, typical of most snoRNAs interacting with the nucleolar protein fibrillarin. Adjacent to the two D boxes there are two sequences, 9 and 10 nt in length, which are perfectly complementary to an evolutionary conserved sequence of the 28S rRNA. Modeling the possible secondary structure of Xenopus and human U15 RNAs reveals that, in spite of the noticeable sequence diversity, a high structural conservation in some cases may be maintained by compensatory mutations. We show also that thedifferent Xenopus U15 RNA forms are expressed at comparable levels, localized in the nucleoli and produced by processing of the intronic sequences, as recently described for other snoRNAs.

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