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      Karyopherin α7 (KPNA7), a divergent member of the importin α family of nuclear import receptors


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          Classical nuclear localization signal (NLS) dependent nuclear import is carried out by a heterodimer of importin α and importin β. NLS cargo is recognized by importin α, which is bound by importin β. Importin β mediates translocation of the complex through the central channel of the nuclear pore, and upon reaching the nucleus, RanGTP binding to importin β triggers disassembly of the complex. To date, six importin α family members, encoded by separate genes, have been described in humans.


          We sequenced and characterized a seventh member of the importin α family of transport factors, karyopherin α 7 (KPNA7), which is most closely related to KPNA2. The domain of KPNA7 that binds Importin β (IBB) is divergent, and shows stronger binding to importin β than the IBB domains from of other importin α family members. With regard to NLS recognition, KPNA7 binds to the retinoblastoma (RB) NLS to a similar degree as KPNA2, but it fails to bind the SV40-NLS and the human nucleoplasmin (NPM) NLS. KPNA7 shows a predominantly nuclear distribution under steady state conditions, which contrasts with KPNA2 which is primarily cytoplasmic.


          KPNA7 is a novel importin α family member in humans that belongs to the importin α2 subfamily. KPNA7 shows different subcellular localization and NLS binding characteristics compared to other members of the importin α family. These properties suggest that KPNA7 could be specialized for interactions with select NLS-containing proteins, potentially impacting developmental regulation.

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          Classical nuclear localization signals: definition, function, and interaction with importin alpha.

          The best understood system for the transport of macromolecules between the cytoplasm and the nucleus is the classical nuclear import pathway. In this pathway, a protein containing a classical basic nuclear localization signal (NLS) is imported by a heterodimeric import receptor consisting of the beta-karyopherin importin beta, which mediates interactions with the nuclear pore complex, and the adaptor protein importin alpha, which directly binds the classical NLS. Here we review recent studies that have advanced our understanding of this pathway and also take a bioinformatics approach to analyze the likely prevalence of this system in vivo. Finally, we describe how a predicted NLS within a protein of interest can be confirmed experimentally to be functionally important.
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            Importin alpha: a multipurpose nuclear-transport receptor.

            The importin alpha/beta heterodimer targets hundreds of proteins to the nuclear-pore complex (NPC) and facilitates their translocation across the nuclear envelope. Importin alpha binds to classical nuclear localization signal (cNLS)-containing proteins and links them to importin beta, the karyopherin that ferries the ternary complex through the NPC. A second karyopherin, the exportin CAS, recycles importin alpha back to the cytoplasm. In this article, we discuss control mechanisms that importin alpha exerts over the assembly and disassembly of the ternary complex and we describe how new groups of importin alpha genes arose during the evolution of metazoan animals to function in development and differentiation. We also describe activities of importin alpha that seem to be distinct from its housekeeping functions in nuclear transport.
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              Crossing the nuclear envelope: hierarchical regulation of nucleocytoplasmic transport.

              Transport of macromolecules between the nucleus and cytoplasm is a critical cellular process for eukaryotes, and the machinery that mediates nucleocytoplasmic exchange is subject to multiple levels of control. Regulation is achieved by modulating the expression or function of single cargoes, transport receptors, or the transport channel. Each of these mechanisms has increasingly broad impacts on transport patterns and capacity, and this hierarchy of control directly affects gene expression, signal transduction, development, and disease.

                Author and article information

                BMC Cell Biol
                BMC Cell Biology
                BioMed Central
                11 August 2010
                : 11
                : 63
                [1 ]Center for Cell Signaling, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA
                [2 ]Department of Microbiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA
                [3 ]Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA
                Copyright ©2010 Kelley et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 15 March 2010
                : 11 August 2010
                Research Article

                Cell biology
                Cell biology


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