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EMBO J. 2003 Mar 17;22(6):1359-69.

A novel splicing regulator shares a nuclear import pathway with SR proteins.

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Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


Alternative splicing of precursor mRNA is often regulated by serine/arginine-rich proteins (SR proteins) and hnRNPs, and varying their concentration in the nucleus can be a mechanism for controlling splice site selection. To understand the nucleocytoplasmic transport mechanism of splicing regulators is of key importance. SR proteins are delivered to the nucleus by transportin-SRs (TRN-SRs), importin beta-like nuclear transporters. Here we identify and characterize a non-SR protein, RNA-binding motif protein 4 (RBM4), as a novel substrate of TRN-SR2. TRN-SR2 interacts specifically with RBM4 in a Ran-sensitive manner. TRN-SR2 indeed mediates the nuclear import of a recombinant protein containing the RBM4 C-terminal domain. This domain serves as a signal for both nuclear import and export, and for nuclear speckle targeting. Finally, both in vivo and in vitro splicing analyses demonstrate that RBM4 not only modulates alternative pre-mRNA splicing but also acts antagonistically to authentic SR proteins in splice site and exon selection. Thus, a novel splicing regulator with opposite activities to SR proteins shares an identical import pathway with SR proteins to the nucleus.

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