Most protein-coding genes in eukaryotes are interrupted by non-coding intervening sequences (introns), which must be precisely removed from primary gene transcripts (pre-mRNAs) before translation of the message into protein. Intron removal by pre-mRNA splicing occurs in the nucleus and is catalysed by complex ribonucleoprotein machines called spliceosomes. These molecular machines consist of several small nuclear RNA molecules and their associated proteins [together termed snRNP (small nuclear ribonucleoprotein) particles], plus multiple accessory factors. Of particular interest are the U2, U5 and U6 snRNPs, which play crucial roles in the catalytic steps of splicing. In the present review, we summarize our current understanding of the role played by the protein components of the U5 snRNP in pre-mRNA splicing, which include some of the largest and most highly conserved nuclear proteins.

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