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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of the auto-inhibitory sequence within the N-terminal domain of importin alpha.

Protein cargoes that contain a classic nuclear localization signal (NLS) are transported into the nucleus through binding to a heterodimeric receptor comprised of importin/karyopherin alpha and beta. An evolutionarily conserved auto-inhibitory sequence within the N-terminal importin beta binding (IBB) domain of importin alpha regulates NLS-cargo binding to the NLS binding pocket on importin alpha. In this study, we have used site-directed mutagenesis coupled with in vitro binding assays and in vivo analyses to investigate the intramolecular interaction of the N-terminal IBB domain and the NLS binding pocket of Saccharomyces cerevisiae importin alpha, Srp1p. We find that mutations within the IBB domain that decrease the binding affinity of the auto-inhibitory sequence for the NLS binding pocket impact importin alpha function in vivo. In addition, the severity of the in vivo phenotype is directly correlated to the reduction of auto-inhibition measured in vitro, suggesting that the in vivo phenotypes are directly related to the loss of auto-inhibitory function. We exploit a conditional auto-inhibitory mutant, srp1-55, to study the in vivo functional overlap between the N-terminal IBB domain of importin alpha and other factors implicated in NLS-cargo release, Cse1p and Nup2p. We propose that the N-terminal IBB domain of importin alpha and Cse1p function together in NLS-cargo release, whereas Nup2p contributes to cargo release/importin alpha recycling through a distinct mechanism.[1]


  1. Characterization of the auto-inhibitory sequence within the N-terminal domain of importin alpha. Harreman, M.T., Cohen, P.E., Hodel, M.R., Truscott, G.J., Corbett, A.H., Hodel, A.E. J. Biol. Chem. (2003) [Pubmed]
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