The Nuclear Transporter Importin 13 Can Regulate Stress-Induced Cell Death through the Clusterin/KU70 Axis

Katarzyna A. Gajewska, David A. Jans, Kylie M. Wagstaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The cellular response to environmental stresses, such as heat and oxidative stress, is dependent on extensive trafficking of stress-signalling molecules between the cytoplasm and nucleus, which potentiates stress-activated signalling pathways, eventually resulting in cell repair or death. Although Ran-dependent nucleocytoplasmic transport mediated by members of the importin (IPO) super family of nuclear transporters is believed to be responsible for nearly all macromolecular transit between nucleus and cytoplasm, it is paradoxically known to be significantly impaired under conditions of stress. Importin 13 (IPO13) is a unique bidirectional transporter that binds to and releases cargo in a Ran-dependent manner, but in some cases, cargo release from IPO13 is affected by loading of another cargo. To investigate IPO13′s role in stress-activated pathways, we performed cell-based screens to identify a multitude of binding partners of IPO13 from human brain, lung, and testes. Analysis of the IPO13 interactome intriguingly indicated more than half of the candidate binding partners to be annotated for roles in stress responses; these included the pro-apoptotic protein nuclear clusterin (nCLU), as well as the nCLU-interacting DNA repair protein KU70. Here, we show, for the first time, that unlike other IPOs which are mislocalised and non-functional, IPO13 continues to translocate between the nucleus and cytoplasm under stress, retaining the capacity to import certain cargoes, such as nCLU, but not export others, such as KU70, as shown by analysis using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. Importantly, depletion of IPO13 reduces stress-induced import of nCLU and protects against stress-induced cell death, with concomitant protection from DNA damage during stress. Overexpression/FACS experiments demonstrate that nCLU is dependent on IPO13 to trigger stress-induced cell death via apoptosis. Taken together, these results implicate IPO13 as a novel functional nuclear transporter in cellular stress, with a key role thereby in cell fate decision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number279
Number of pages30
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • cell death
  • cellular stress
  • importin 13
  • nuclear transport

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