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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22296. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022296. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

L-Ilf3 and L-NF90 traffic to the nucleolus granular component: alternatively-spliced exon 3 encodes a nucleolar localization motif.

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UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR 7622, Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement, Paris, France.


Ilf3 and NF90, two proteins containing double-stranded RNA-binding domains, are generated by alternative splicing and involved in several functions. Their heterogeneity results from posttranscriptional and posttranslational modifications. Alternative splicing of exon 3, coding for a 13 aa N-terminal motif, generates for each protein a long and short isoforms. Subcellular fractionation and localization of recombinant proteins showed that this motif acts as a nucleolar localization signal. Deletion and substitution mutants identified four arginines, essential for nucleolar targeting, and three histidines to stabilize the proteins within the nucleolus. The short isoforms are never found in the nucleoli, whereas the long isoforms are present in the nucleoplasm and the nucleoli. For Ilf3, only the posttranslationally-unmodified long isoform is nucleolar, suggesting that this nucleolar targeting is abrogated by posttranslational modifications. Confocal microscopy and FRAP experiments have shown that the long Ilf3 isoform localizes to the granular component of the nucleolus, and that L-Ilf3 and L-NF90 exchange rapidly between nucleoli. The presence of this 13 aminoacid motif, combined with posttranslational modifications, is responsible for the differences in Ilf3 and NF90 isoforms subcellular localizations. The protein polymorphism of Ilf3/NF90 and the various subcellular localizations of their isoforms may partially explain the various functions previously reported for these proteins.

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