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Probing Nuclear Localization Signal-Importin α Binding Equilibria in Living Cells*

Cardarelli, Francesco; Bizzarri, Ranieri; Serresi, Michela; Albertazzi, Lorenzo; Beltram, Fabio
Fonte: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Publicador: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Tipo: Artigo de Revista Científica
EN
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The regulated process of protein import into the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell is mediated by specific nuclear localization signals (NLSs) that are recognized by protein-import receptors. In this study, we present fluorescence-based methods to quantitatively address the physicochemical details of NLS recognition by the receptor protein importin α (Impα) in living cells. First, by combining fluorescence recovery after photobleaching measurements and protein-concentration calibration, we quantitatively define nuclear import saturability and afford an affinity value for NLS-Impα binding. Second, by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, we directly monitor the occurrence of NLS-Impα interaction and measure its effective dissociation constant (KD) in the actual cellular environment. Our kinetic and thermodynamic analyses independently indicate that the subsaturation of Impα with the expressed NLS cargo regulates nuclear import rates in living cells, in contrast to what can be predicted on the basis of available in vitro data. Finally, our experiments also provide evidence for the regulation of nuclear import mediated by the intrasteric importin β-binding domain of Impα and yield the first estimate of its autoinhibition energy in living cells.