SF3b is a U2 snRNP-associated protein complex essential for spliceosome assembly. Although evidence that SF3b contains the spliceosomal proteins SAPs 49, 130, 145, and 155 has accumulated, a protein-mediated association between all of these proteins has yet to be directly demonstrated. Here we report the isolation of a cDNA encoding SAP 130, which completes the cloning of the putative SF3b complex proteins. Using antibodies to SAP 130 and other putative SF3b components, we showed that SAPs 130, 145, and 155 are present in a protein complex in nuclear extracts and that these proteins associate with one another in purified U2 snRNP. Moreover, SAPs 155 and 130 interact with each other (directly or indirectly) within this complex, and SAPs 49 and 145 are known to interact directly with each other. Thus, together with prior work, our studies indicate that SAPs 49, 130, 145, and 155 are indeed components of SF3b. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae homologs of SAPs 49 and 145 are encoded by essential genes. We show here that the S. cerevisiae homologs of SAPs 130 and 155 (scSAP 130/RSE1 and scSAP 155, respectively) are also essential. Recently, the SF3b proteins were found in purified U12 snRNP, which functionally substitutes for U2 snRNP in the minor spliceosome. This high level of conservation, together with the prior observation that the SF3b proteins interact with pre-mRNA very close to the branch site, suggest that the SF3b complex plays a critical role near or at the spliceosome catalytic core.
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