Understanding pre-mRNA splicing through crystallography
Abstract Crystallography is a powerful tool to determine the atomic structures of proteins and RNAs. X-ray crystallography has been used to determine the structure of many splicing related proteins and RNAs, making major contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanism and regulation of pre-mRNA splicing. Compared to other structural methods, crystallography has its own advantage in the high-resolution structural information it can provide and the unique biological questions it can answer. In addition, two new crystallographic methods – the serial femtosecond crystallography and 3D electron crystallography – were developed to overcome some of the limitations of traditional X-ray crystallography and broaden the range of biological problems that crystallography can solve. This review discusses the theoretical basis, instrument requirements, troubleshooting, and exciting potential of these crystallographic methods to further our understanding of pre-mRNA splicing, a critical event in gene expression of all eukaryotes.