Selection of circularization sites in a group I IVS RNA requires multiple alignments of an internal template-like sequence.
Circularization and reverse circularization of the Tetrahymena thermophila rRNA intervening sequence resemble the first and second steps in splicing, respectively. However, site-specific base substitutions show that different nucleotides are involved in selection of the 5' splice site and the circularization sites. Furthermore, a substitution at the major circularization site that prevents circularization can be suppressed by second substitutions at two different nucleotide positions. A model is proposed in which adjacent and overlapping sequences can function as a binding site, forming a short duplex with the sequence at the circularization site and thus directing circularization and reverse circularization. Because the 5' exon-binding site and three potential circularization binding sites fall within a contiguous eight nucleotide region, this sequence may translocate relative to the catalytic core of the ribozyme in a template-like manner.
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