Importins and beyond: Non-conventional nuclear transport mechanisms

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The movement of proteins between the cytoplasm and the nucleus conventionally involves the recognition of nuclear targeting signals by members of the importin (Imp) superfamily of nuclear transporters, followed by translocation through the nuclear envelope-embedded nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that distinct alternative pathways for nuclear transport exist and are relatively abundant. This review examines several of these novel pathways, including facilitation of Imp-dependent transport by microtubule motors, and Imp-independent pathways involving either other transport molecules such as the calcium-binding protein calmodulin or through direct binding to the components of the NPC. The existence of these pathways and the fact that many proteins appear to possess separate Imp-dependent and -independent nuclear import mechanisms ensure that the cell can function under conditions in which Imp-dependent transport is inhibited and/or modulate the efficiency of Imp-dependent transport itself, according to the need.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188 - 1198
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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