The active centre of the spliceosome consists of an intricate network formed by U5, U2 and U6 snRNAs, and a pre-mRNA substrate. Prp8, a component of the U5 snRNP, crosslinks extensively with this RNA catalytic core. We present the crystal structure of yeast Prp8 (residues 885-2413) in complex with the U5 snRNP assembly factor Aar2. The structure reveals new tightly associated domains of Prp8 resembling a bacterial group II intron reverse transcriptase and a type II restriction endonuclease. Suppressors of splice site mutations and an intron branchpoint crosslink map to a large cavity formed by the reverse transcriptase thumb, endonuclease-like and the RNaseH-like domains. This cavity is large enough to accommodate the catalytic core of group II intron RNA. The structure provides crucial insights into the architecture of the spliceosome’s active site and reinforces the notion that nuclear pre-mRNA splicing and group II intron splicing have a common origin.