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Control over the nuclear transport of transcription factors (TFs) represents a level of gene regulation integral to cellular processes such as differentiation, transformation and signal transduction. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae TF SWI5 is excluded from the nucleus in a cell cycle-dependent fashion, mediated by phosphorylation by the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) CDC28. Nuclear entry occurs in G1. beta-galactosidase fusion proteins carrying SWI5 amino acids 633-682, including the nuclear localization sequence (NLS: Lys-Lys-Tyr-Glu-Asn-Val-Val-Ile-Lys-Arg-Ser-Pro-Arg-Lys-Arg-Gly-Arg-Pro- Arg-Lys655) were analyzed for subcellular localization in appropriate temperature-sensitive yeast strains blocked in G1 or G2/M using indirect immunofluorescence, and for nuclear import kinetics in living rat hepatoma or Vero African green monkey kidney cells microinjected with fluorescently labeled bacterially expressed protein and quantitative confocal laser microscopy. Cell cycle-dependent nuclear localization in yeast was both NLS and cdk site-dependent, whereby mutation of the cdk site serines (Ser646 and Ser664) to alanine resulted in constitutive nuclear localization. In mammalian cells, the SWI5 fusion proteins were similarly transported to the nucleus in an NLS-dependent fashion, while the mutation to Ala of the cdk site serines increased the maximal level of nuclear accumulation from about 1- to over 8-fold. We suggest that phosphorylation at the cdk sites inhibits nuclear transport of SWI5, consistent with our previous observations for the inhibition of SV40 large tumor antigen nuclear transport by phosphorylation by the cdk cdc2. The results indicate for the first time that a yeast NLS and, fascinatingly, its regulatory mechanisms are functional in higher eukaryotes, implying the universal nature of regulatory signals for protein transport to the nucleus.


Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





17064 - 17067


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Biological Transport, Cell Cycle, Cell Cycle Proteins, Cell Nucleus, Cells, Cultured, Cercopithecus aethiops, Cyclin-Dependent Kinases, Fungal Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Phosphorylation, Rats, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins, Transcription Factors, Vero Cells