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Trends Cell Biol. 2004 Sep;14(9):505-14.

Importin alpha: a multipurpose nuclear-transport receptor.

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Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


The importin alpha/beta heterodimer targets hundreds of proteins to the nuclear-pore complex (NPC) and facilitates their translocation across the nuclear envelope. Importin alpha binds to classical nuclear localization signal (cNLS)-containing proteins and links them to importin beta, the karyopherin that ferries the ternary complex through the NPC. A second karyopherin, the exportin CAS, recycles importin alpha back to the cytoplasm. In this article, we discuss control mechanisms that importin alpha exerts over the assembly and disassembly of the ternary complex and we describe how new groups of importin alpha genes arose during the evolution of metazoan animals to function in development and differentiation. We also describe activities of importin alpha that seem to be distinct from its housekeeping functions in nuclear transport.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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