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Bioessays. 2001 Sep;23(9):775-87.

Multifunctional regulatory proteins that control gene expression in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm.

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Department of Immunology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The multistep pathway of eukaryotic gene expression involves a series of highly regulated events in the nucleus and cytoplasm. In the nucleus, genes are transcribed into pre-messenger RNAs which undergo a series of nuclear processing steps. Mature mRNAs are then transported to the cytoplasm, where they are translated into protein and degraded at a rate dictated by transcript- and cell-type-specific cues. Until recently, these individual nuclear and cytoplasmic events were thought to be primarily regulated by different RNA- and DNA-binding proteins that are localized either only in the nucleus or only the cytoplasm. Here, we describe multifunctional proteins that control both nuclear and cytoplasmic steps of gene expression. One such class of multifunctional proteins (e.g., Bicoid and Y-box proteins) regulates both transcription and translation whereas another class (e.g., Sex-lethal) regulates both nuclear RNA processing and translation. Other events controlled by multifunctional proteins include assembly of spliceosome components, spliceosome recycling, RNA editing, cytoplasmic mRNA localization, and cytoplasmic RNA stability. The existence of multifunctional proteins may explain the paradoxical involvement of the nucleus in an RNA surveillance pathway (nonsense-mediated decay) that detects cytoplasmic signals (premature termination codons). We speculate that shuttling multifunctional proteins serve to efficiently link RNA metabolism in the cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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