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Mol Cell. 2004 Nov 5;16(3):319-30.

Importin beta: conducting a much larger cellular symphony.

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Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, Division of Biological Sciences 0347, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, Room 2124A, Pacific Hall, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Importin beta, once thought to be exclusively a nuclear transport receptor, is emerging as a global regulator of diverse cellular functions. Importin beta acts positively in multiple interphase roles: in nuclear import, as a chaperone for highly charged nuclear proteins, and as a potential motor adaptor for movement along microtubules. In contrast, importin beta plays a negative regulatory role in mitotic spindle assembly, centrosome dynamics, nuclear membrane formation, and nuclear pore assembly. In most of these, importin beta is counteracted by its regulator, Ran-GTP. In light of this, the recent discovery of Ran's involvement in spindle checkpoint control suggested a potential new arena for importin beta action, although it is also possible that one of importin beta's relatives, the karyopherin family of proteins, manages this checkpoint. Lastly, importin beta plays a role in transducing damage signals from the axons of injured neurons back to the cell body.

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