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Biochemistry. 2011 May 31;50(21):4521-36. doi: 10.1021/bi200425b. Epub 2011 May 10.

Signals and pathways regulating nucleolar retention of novel putative nucleolar GTPase NGP-1(GNL-2).

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Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, Chennai, India.


NGP-1(GNL-2) is a putative GTPase, overexpressed in breast carcinoma and localized in the nucleolus. NGP-1 belongs to the MMR1-HSR1 family of large GTPases that are emerging as crucial coordinators of signaling cascades in different cellular compartments. The members of this family share very closely related G-domains, but the signals and pathways regulating their subcellular localization and their functional relevance remain unknown. To improve our understanding of the nuclear transport mechanism of NGP-1, we have identified two nucleolar localization signals (NoLS) that are independently shown to translocate NGP-1 as well the heterologous protein to the nucleolus. Site-specific mutagenesis and immunofluorescence studies suggest that the tandem repeats of positively charged amino acids are critical for NGP-1 NoLS function. Interestingly, amino-terminal (NGP-1(1-100)) and carboxyl-terminal (NGP-1(661-731)) signals independently interact with receptors importin-β and importin-α, respectively. This investigation, for the first time, provides evidence that the interaction of importin-α with C-terminal NoLS (NGP-1(661-731)) was able to target the heterologous protein to the nucleolar compartment. Structural modeling analysis and alanine scanning mutagenesis of conserved G-domains suggest that G4 and G5 motifs are critical for GTP binding of NGP-1 and further show that the nucleolar localization of NGP-1 is regulated by a GTP gating-mediated mechanism. In addition, our data suggest that an ongoing transcription is essential for efficient localization of NGP-1 to the nucleolus. We have observed a high level of NGP-1 expression in the mitogen-activated primary human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (hPBMC) as well as in human fetal brain-derived neural precursor cells (hNPCs) in comparison to cells undergoing differentiation. Overall, the results suggest that multiple mechanisms are involved in the localization of NGP-1 to the nucleolus for the regulation of nucleolar function in cell growth and proliferation.

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