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EMBO J. 1998 Jun 15;17(12):3363-71.

Leptomycin B-sensitive nuclear export of MAPKAP kinase 2 is regulated by phosphorylation.

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Max Delbr├╝ck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany.


To study the intracellular localization of MAPKAP kinase 2 (MK2), which carries a putative bipartite nuclear localization signal (NLS), we constructed a green fluorescent protein-MAPKAP kinase 2 fusion protein (GFP-MK2). In transfected cells, this protein is located predominantly in the nucleus; unexpectedly, upon stress, it rapidly translocates to the cytoplasm. This translocation can be blocked by the p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB203580, indicating its regulation by phosphorylation. Molecular mimicry of MK2 phosphorylation at T317 in GFP-MK2 led to a mutant which is located almost exclusively in the cytoplasm of the cell, whereas the mutant T317A shows no stress-induced redistribution. Since leptomycin B, which inhibits the interaction of exportin 1 with the Rev-type leucine-rich nuclear export signal (NES), blocks stress-dependent translocation of GFP-MK2, it is supposed that phosphorylation-induced export of the protein causes the translocation. We have identified the region responsible for nuclear export in MK2 which is partially overlapping with and C-terminal to the autoinhibitory motif. This region contains a cluster of hydrophobic amino acids in the characteristic spacing of a leucine-rich Rev-type NES which is necessary to direct GFP-MK2 to the cytoplasm. However, unlike the Rev-type NES, this region alone is not sufficient for nuclear export. The data obtained indicate that MK2 contains a constitutively active NLS and a stress-regulated signal for nuclear export.

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