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Curr Biol. 2009 May 26;19(10):843-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.055. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Two distinct repeat sequences of Nup98 nucleoporins characterize dual nuclei in the binucleated ciliate tetrahymena.

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Kobe Advanced ICT Research Center, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Kobe 651-2492, Japan.


Ciliated protozoa have two functionally distinct nuclei, a micronucleus (MIC) and a macronucleus (MAC) [1]. These two nuclei are distinct in size, transcriptional activity, and division cycle control, proceeding with cycles of DNA replication and nuclear division at different times within the same cell [2, 3]. The structural basis generating functionally distinct nuclei remains unknown. Here, we show that, in Tetrahymena thermophila, the nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) of MIC and MAC are composed of different sets of nucleoporins. Among the 13 nucleoporins identified, Nup98 homologs were of interest because two out of the four homologs were localized exclusively in the MAC and the other two were localized exclusively in the MIC. The two MAC-localizing Nup98s contain repeats of GLFG [4]. In contrast, the two MIC-localizing Nup98s lack the GLFG repeats and instead contain a novel repeat signature of NIFN. Ectopic expression of a chimeric MIC-localizing Nup98 homolog bearing GLFG repeats obstructed the nuclear accumulation of MIC-specific nuclear proteins, and expression of a chimeric MAC-localizing Nup98 homolog bearing NIFN repeats obstructed the nuclear accumulation of MAC-specific nuclear proteins. These results suggest that Nup98s act as a barrier to misdirected localization of nucleus-specific proteins. Our findings provide the first evidence that the NPC contributes to nucleus-selective transport in ciliates.

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