In molecular biology, LSm proteins are a family of RNA-binding proteins found in virtually every cellular organism. LSm is a contraction of 'like Sm', because the first identified members of the LSm protein family were the Sm proteins. LSm proteins are defined by a characteristic three-dimensional structure and their assembly into rings of six or seven individual LSm protein molecules, and play a large number of various roles in mRNA processing and regulation.
The Sm proteins were first discovered as antigens targeted by so-called Anti-Sm antibodies in a patient with a form of Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease. They were named Sm proteins in honor of Stephanie Smith, a patient who suffered from SLE. Other proteins with very similar structures were subsequently discovered and named LSm proteins. New members of the LSm protein family continue to be identified and reported.
Proteins with similar structures are grouped into a hierarchy of protein families, superfamilies, and folds. The LSm protein structure is an example of a small beta sheet folded into a short barrel. Individual LSm proteins assemble into a six or seven member doughnut ring (more properly termed a torus), which usually binds to a small RNA molecule to form a ribonucleoprotein complex. The LSm torus assists the RNA molecule to assume and maintain its proper three-dimensional structure. Depending on which LSm proteins and RNA molecule are involved, this ribonucleoprotein complex facilitates a wide variety of RNA processing including degradation, editing, splicing, and regulation.
Alternate terms for LSm family are LSm fold and Sm-like fold, and alternate capitalization styles such as lsm, LSM, and Lsm are common and equally acceptable.