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J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 4;275(31):23462-70.

Nuclear import of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 and -5 is mediated by the importin beta subunit.

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Kolling Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales 2065, Australia.


Although insulin-like growth factor-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 and IGFBP-5 are known to modulate cell growth by reversibly sequestering extracellular insulin-like growth factors, several reports have suggested that IGFBP-3, and possibly also IGFBP-5, have important insulin-like growth factor-independent effects on cell growth. These effects may be related to the putative nuclear actions of IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5, which we have recently shown are transported to the nuclei of T47D breast cancer cells. We now describe the mechanism for nuclear import of IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5. In digitonin-permeabilized cells, where the nuclear envelope remained intact, nuclear translocation of wild-type IGFBP-3 appears to occur by a nuclear localization sequence (NLS)-dependent pathway mediated principally by the importin beta nuclear transport factor and requiring both ATP and GTP hydrolysis. Under identical conditions, an NLS mutant form of IGFBP-3, IGFBP-3[(228)KGRKR --> MDGEA], was unable to translocate to the nucleus. In cells where both the plasma membrane and nuclear envelope were permeabilized, wild-type IGFBP-3, but not the mutant form, accumulated in the nucleus, implying that the NLS was also involved in mediating binding to nuclear components. By fusing wild-type and mutant forms of NLS sequences (IGFBP-3 [215-232] and IGFBP-5 [201-218]) to the green fluorescent protein, we identified the critical residues of the NLS necessary and sufficient for nuclear accumulation. Using a Western ligand binding assay, wild-type IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5, but not an NLS mutant form of IGFBP-3, were shown to be recognized by importin beta and the alpha/beta heterodimer but only poorly by importin alpha. Together these results suggest that the NLSs within the C-terminal domain of IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5 are required for importin-beta-dependent nuclear uptake and probably also accumulation through mediating binding to nuclear components.

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