Both Ran and importins have the ability to function as nuclear mRNA export factors

Rui Yi, Hal P. Bogerd, Heather L. Wiegand, Bryan R. Cullen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The Ran protein regulates nucleocytoplasmic transport mediated by the karyopherin family of nuclear transport factors. Ran is converted to the active, GTP bound form in the nucleus and then binds to a conserved domain found in all karyopherins. This interaction induces cargo binding for exportins and cargo release for importins. In either case, the Ran·GTP is then transported to the cytoplasm by the karyopherin, where it is hydrolyzed to Ran·GDP. To ask whether Ran could function as a nuclear mRNA export factor, we fused Ran to the MS2 coat protein and inserted MS2 RNA-binding sites into an unspliced cat mRNA that is normally sequestered in the nucleus. Coexpression of MS2-Ran induced cat mRNA export and CAT enzyme expression as effectively as, for example, an MS2-Rev fusion protein. MS2-Ran dependent nuclear mRNA export was reduced by inhibitors specific for Crm1, but not blocked as was seen with MS2-Rev. Consistent with the hypothesis that Crm1 is not the only karyopherin cofactor for MS2-Ran mediated mRNA export, we show that not only Crm1 but also CAS, transportin, importin β and exportin t can all export mRNA from the nucleus when tethered via the MS2 RNA-binding domain. In contrast, two shuttling hnRNPs, hnRNP A1 and hnRNP K, proved unable to function as nuclear RNA export factors when expressed as MS2 fusions. Together, these data argue that karyopherins that normally function to transport proteins into or out of the nucleus are also capable of exporting tethered mRNA molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-187
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Nucleocytoplasmic transport
  • RNA binding
  • RNA export

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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