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Curr Biol. 2001 Oct 30;11(21):1716-21.

The DExH/D box protein HEL/UAP56 is essential for mRNA nuclear export in Drosophila.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Dbp5 is the only member of the DExH/D box family of RNA helicases that is directly implicated in the export of messenger RNAs from the nucleus of yeast and vertebrate cells. Dbp5 localizes in the cytoplasm and at the cytoplasmic face of the nuclear pore complex (NPC). In an attempt to identify proteins present in a highly enriched NPC fraction, two other helicases were detected: RNA helicase A (RHA) and UAP56. This suggested a role for these proteins in nuclear transport. Contrary to expectation, we show that the Drosophila homolog of Dbp5 is not essential for mRNA export in cultured Schneider cells. In contrast, depletion of HEL, the Drosophila homolog of UAP56, inhibits growth and results in a robust accumulation of polyadenylated RNAs within the nucleus. Consequently, incorporation of [35S]methionine into newly synthesized proteins is inhibited. This inhibition affects the expression of both heat-shock and non-heat-shock mRNAs, as well as intron-containing and intronless mRNAs. In HeLa nuclear extracts, UAP56 preferentially, but not exclusively, associates with spliced mRNAs carrying the exon junction complex (EJC). We conclude that HEL is essential for the export of bulk mRNA in Drosophila. The association of human UAP56 with spliced mRNAs suggests that this protein might provide a functional link between splicing and export.

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