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Nature. 1991 Feb 28;349(6312):802-6.

Protein synthesis required to anchor a mutant p53 protein which is temperature-sensitive for nuclear transport.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Clare Hall Laboratories, Potters Bar, Herts, UK.


The p53 protein is rendered temperature-sensitive by a point mutation. Rat cells transformed by this mutant p53 and an activated ras oncogene grow well at 37 degrees C but cease DNA synthesis and cell division when shifted to 32 degrees C. Immunostaining demonstrates that the mutant p53 protein is in the nucleus of the arrested cells at 32 degrees C but in the cytoplasm of the growing cells at 37 degrees C. This is the first example of a protein which is temperature-sensitive for nuclear transport. The translocation from cytoplasm to nucleus and vice versa occurs 6 h after temperature shift and is coincident with the inhibition of DNA synthesis; transport from cytoplasm to nucleus does not require protein synthesis. Remarkably, inhibition of protein synthesis at 37 degrees C also results in the rapid appearance of mutant p53 in the cell nucleus. These results suggest the presence of a short-lived protein responsible for holding p53 in the cytoplasm at 37 degrees C but not at 32 degrees C. Analysis of a non-temperature-sensitive mutant p53 protein shows that its cytoplasmic location is sensitive to protein synthesis inhibitors but not to temperature.

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