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EMBO J. 2011 Aug 31;30(17):3457-74. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.287.

Ran-dependent nuclear export mediators: a structural perspective.

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Department of Cellular Logistics, Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen, Germany.


Nuclear export is an essential eukaryotic activity. It proceeds through nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) and is mediated by soluble receptors that shuttle between nucleus and cytoplasm. RanGTPase-dependent export mediators (exportins) constitute the largest class of these carriers and are functionally highly versatile. All of these exportins load their substrates in response to RanGTP binding in the nucleus and traverse NPCs as ternary RanGTP-exportin-cargo complexes to the cytoplasm, where GTP hydrolysis leads to export complex disassembly. The different exportins vary greatly in their substrate range. Recent structural studies of both protein- and RNA-specific exporters have illuminated how exportins bind their cargoes, how Ran triggers cargo loading and how export complexes are disassembled in the cytoplasm. Here, we review the current state of knowledge and highlight emerging principles as well as prevailing questions.

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