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Cell. 1996 Oct 4;87(1):21-32.

Importin provides a link between nuclear protein import and U snRNA export.

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Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie, Universität Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Importin-alpha mediates nuclear protein import by binding nuclear localization signals and importin-beta. We find approximately 30% of SRP1p, the yeast importin-alpha, in a nuclear complex with the Saccharomyces cerevisiae nuclear cap-binding protein complex (CBC). Similarly, a large fraction of Xenopus CBC is associated with importin-alpha in the nucleus. CBC promotes nuclear export of capped U snRNAs and shuttles between nucleus and cytoplasm. The CBC-importin-alpha complex binds specifically to capped RNA, suggesting that CBC might shuttle while bound to importin-alpha. Strikingly, importin-beta binding displaces the RNA from the CBC-importin-alpha complex. Thus, the commitment of CBC for nuclear reentry triggers the release of the export substrate into the cytoplasm. We provide evidence for a mechanism that ensures that importin-mediated RNA release is a specifically cytoplasmic event.

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