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Nat Cell Biol. 2006 Mar;8(3):257-63. Epub 2006 Feb 19.

A selective block of nuclear actin export stabilizes the giant nuclei of Xenopus oocytes.

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Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie der Universität Heidelberg (ZMBH), INF 282, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Actin is a major cytoskeletal element and is normally kept cytoplasmic by exportin 6 (Exp6)-driven nuclear export. Here, we show that Exp6 recognizes actin features that are conserved from yeast to human. Surprisingly however, microinjected actin was not exported from Xenopus laevis oocyte nuclei, unless Exp6 was co-injected, indicating that the pathway is inactive in this cell type. Indeed, Exp6 is undetectable in oocytes, but is synthesized from meiotic maturation onwards, which explains how actin export resumes later in embryogenesis. Exp6 thus represents the first example of a strictly developmentally regulated nuclear transport pathway. We asked why Xenopus oocytes lack Exp6 and observed that ectopic application of Exp6 renders the giant oocyte nuclei extremely fragile. This effect correlates with the selective disappearance of a sponge-like intranuclear scaffold of F-actin. These nuclei have a normal G2-phase DNA content in a volume 100,000 times larger than nuclei of somatic cells. Apparently, their mechanical integrity cannot be maintained by chromatin and the associated nuclear matrix, but instead requires an intranuclear actin-scaffold.

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