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Brain Res. 2000 Sep 15;877(1):110-23.

UNCL, the mammalian homologue of UNC-50, is an inner nuclear membrane RNA-binding protein.

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Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, 3052, Parkville, Australia.


We isolated a mammalian homologue of the C. elegans gene unc-50 that we have named UNCL. The 777 kb rat UNCL cDNA encodes a 259 amino acid protein that is expressed in a wide variety of tissues with highest mRNA levels in brain, kidney and testis. Hydropathy plot analysis and in vitro translation experiments with microsomal membranes indicate that UNCL is a transmembrane protein. Hemagglutinin tagged UNCL was stably transfected into SaOS-2 osteosarcoma cells and exhibited a nuclear rim staining pattern which was retained following extraction with 1% Triton X-100, suggesting that UNCL localizes to the inner nuclear membrane. UNCL-HA was extractable in 350 mM NaCl, suggesting that UNCL is not associated with the nuclear matrix. Homopolymer RNA-binding assays performed on in vitro translated UNCL protein and 'structural modeling by homology' suggest that UNCL binds RNA via an amino-terminal RNA Recognition-like Motif. Since unc-50 is required for expression of assembled muscle-type nicotinic receptors in the nematode we investigated whether UNCL had a similar function for mammalian nicotinic receptors. When UNCL was co-expressed with neural nicotinic receptors in Xenopus oocytes or COS cells it increased expression of functional cell surface receptors up to 1. 6-fold. We conclude that UNCL is a novel inner nuclear membrane protein that associates with RNA and is involved in the cell-surface expression of neuronal nicotinic receptors. UNCL plays a broader role because UNCL homologues are present in two yeast and a plant species, none of which express nicotinic receptors and it is also found in tissues that lack nicotinic receptors.

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