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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Jan;15(1):433-44.

The serum response factor nuclear localization signal: general implications for cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase activity in control of nuclear translocation.

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  • 1Cell Biology Unit, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Montpellier, France.


We have identified a basic sequence in the N-terminal region of the 67-kDa serum response factor (p67SRF or SRF) responsible for its nuclear localization. A peptide containing this nuclear localization signal (NLS) translocates rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG) into the nucleus as efficiently as a peptide encoding the simian virus 40 NLS. This effect is abolished by substituting any two of the four basic residues in this NLS. Overexpression of a modified form of SRF in which these basic residues have been mutated confirms the absolute requirement for this sequence, and not the other basic amino acid sequences adjacent to it, in the nuclear localization of SRF. Since this NLS is in close proximity to potential phosphorylation sites for the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (A-kinase), we further investigated if A-kinase plays a role in the nuclear location of SRF. The nuclear transport of SRF proteins requires basal A-kinase activity, since inhibition of A-kinase by using either the specific inhibitory peptide PKIm or type II regulatory subunits (RII) completely prevents the nuclear localization of plasmid-expressed tagged SRF or an SRF-NLS-IgG conjugate. Direct phosphorylation of SRF by A-kinase can be discounted in this effect, since mutation of the putative phosphorylation sites in either the NLS peptide or the encoded full-length SRF protein had no effect on nuclear transport of the mutants. Finally, in support of an implication of A-kinase-dependent phosphorylation in a more general mechanism affecting nuclear import, we show that the nuclear transport of a simian virus 40-NLS-conjugated IgG or purified cyclin A protein is also blocked by inhibition of A-kinase, even though neither contains any potential sites for phosphorylation by A-kinase or can be phosphorylated by A-kinase in vitro.

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