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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Apr 30;317(2):545-50.

Phosphorylation of nuclear localization signal inhibits the ligand-dependent nuclear import of aryl hydrocarbon receptor.

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Research Institute, Saitama Cancer Center, Saitama, Japan.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor which plays a role as an intracellular mediator of the xenobiotic signaling pathway. We previously identified the minimum nuclear localization signal (NLS) of AhR(13-39): it is composed of two basic amino acid segments, AhR(13-16:RKRR) and AhR(37-39:KRH). In this study, we showed that the two protein kinase C (PKC) sites of Ser-12 and Ser-36 are located one amino acid upstream from each of the two segments, and that a ligand-dependent nuclear import of AhR is inhibited by substitution of aspartic acid for Ser-12 (S12D) or Ser-36 (S36D), which mimics the negative charge of phosphorylation. This observation was supported by microinjection analysis, an in vitro nuclear transport assay, and a luciferase reporter assay, suggesting a two-step mechanism in the ligand-dependent nuclear translocation of AhR.

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