The survival of motor neurons (SMN) protein, the product of the neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) gene, is localized both in the cytoplasm and in discrete nuclear bodies called gems. In both compartments SMN is part of a large complex that contains several proteins including Gemin2 (formerly SIP1) and the DEAD box protein Gemin3. In the cytoplasm, the SMN complex is associated with snRNP Sm core proteins and plays a critical role in spliceosomal snRNP assembly. In the nucleus, SMN is required for pre-mRNA splicing by serving in the regeneration of spliceosomes. These functions are likely impaired in cells of SMA patients because they have reduced levels of functional SMN. Here, we report the identification by nanoelectrospray mass spectrometry of a novel component of the SMN complex that we name Gemin4. Gemin4 is associated in vivo with the SMN complex through a direct interaction with Gemin3. The tight interaction of Gemin4 with Gemin3 suggests that it could serve as a cofactor of this DEAD box protein. Gemin4 also interacts directly with several of the Sm core proteins. Monoclonal antibodies against Gemin4 efficiently immunoprecipitate the spliceosomal U snRNAs U1 and U5 from Xenopus oocytes cytoplasm. Immunolocalization experiments show that Gemin4 is colocalized with SMN in the cytoplasm and in gems. Interestingly, Gemin4 is also detected in the nucleoli, suggesting that the SMN complex may also function in preribosomal RNA processing or ribosome assembly.
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- snRNP biogenesis