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Mol Cell Biol. Jan 1991; 11(1): 573–577.
PMCID: PMC359672

Alternative initiation of translation determines cytoplasmic or nuclear localization of basic fibroblast growth factor.


Three forms of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), initiated at an AUG (18 kDa) and two CUG (21 and 22.5 kDa) start codons, were produced following transfection of COS cells with human hepatoma bFGF cDNA. The subcellular localization of the different forms was investigated directly or by using chimeric genes constructed by fusion of the bFGF and chloramphenicol acetyltransferase open reading frames. The AUG-initiated proteins were cytoplasmic, while the CUG-initiated forms were nuclear. The signal sequence responsible for the nuclear localization of bFGF is contained within 37 amino acid residues between the second CUG and the AUG start codons. Alternative initiation of translation regulates the subcellular localization of bFGF and thus could modulate its role in cell growth and differentiation control.

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