Posttranscriptional steps in the production of mRNA include well characterized polyadenylation and splicing reactions, but it is also necessary to understand how RNA is transported within the nucleus from the site of its transcription to the nuclear pore, where it is translocated to the cytoplasmic compartment. Determining the localization of RNA within the nucleus is an important aspect of understanding RNA production and may provide clues for investigating the trafficking of RNA within the nucleus and the mechanism for its export to the cytoplasm. We have previously shown that late phase adenovirus-infected cells contain large clusters of snRNP and non-snRNP splicing factors; the presence of these structures is correlated with high levels of viral late gene transcription. The snRNP clusters correspond to enlarged interchromatin granules present in late phase infected cells. Here we show that polyadenylated RNA and spliced tripartite leader exons from the viral major late transcription unit are present in these same late phase snRNP-containing structures. We find that the majority of the steady state viral RNA present in the nucleus is spliced at the tripartite leader exons. Tripartite leader exons are efficiently exported from the nucleus at a time when we detect their accumulation in interchromatin granule clusters. Since the enlarged interchromatin granules contain spliced and polyadenylated RNA, we suggest that viral RNA may accumulate in this late phase structure during an intranuclear step in RNA transport.

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