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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1997 Jun;61(2):193-211.

Nucleocytoplasmic transport of macromolecules.

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Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Nucleocytoplasmic transport is a complex process that consists of the movement of numerous macromolecules back and forth across the nuclear envelope. All macromolecules that move in and out of the nucleus do so via nuclear pore complexes that form large proteinaceous channels in the nuclear envelope. In addition to nuclear pores, nuclear transport of macromolecules requires a number of soluble factors that are found both in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus. A combination of biochemical, genetic, and cell biological approaches have been used to identify and characterize the various components of the nuclear transport machinery. Recent studies have shown that both import to and export from the nucleus are mediated by signals found within the transport substrates. Several studies have demonstrated that these signals are recognized by soluble factors that target these substrates to the nuclear pore. Once substrates have been directed to the pore, most transport events depend on a cycle of GTP hydrolysis mediated by the small Ras-like GTPase, Ran, as well as other proteins that regulate the guanine nucleotide-bound state of Ran. Many of the essential factors have been identified, and the challenge that remains is to determine the exact mechanism by which transport occurs. This review attempts to present an integrated view of our current understanding of nuclear transport while highlighting the contributions that have been made through studies with genetic organisms such as the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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