During splicing, the exon junction complex (EJC) is deposited upstream of exon-exon boundaries. The EJC and its peripheral bound proteins play an essential role in mediating mRNA export, translation and turnover. However, the exact sequence of EJC assembly and the involved factors during splicing remain elusive. Recently published structures of the human C* spliceosome clarified the position of the EJC at this phase of splicing and have given insight into previously unidentified interactions between the EJC and spliceosomal proteins. Here, these new observations are presented and the significance for EJC assembly is discussed. Furthermore, the vast landscape of EJC interacting proteins and their manifold functions are described. Finally, the factors involved in EJC disassembly and recycling are recapitulated. This review aims to integrate structural, biochemical and physiological data to obtain a comprehensive picture of EJC components during the lifetime of the EJC.

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