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Open Access Research article

Dynamic localisation of Ran GTPase during the cell cycle

James RA Hutchins12, William J Moore13 and Paul R Clarke1*

Author affiliations

1 Biomedical Research Institute, College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 9SY, UK

2 Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria

3 Division of Gene Regulation and Expression, Wellcome Trust Biocentre, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2009, 10:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-10-66

Published: 18 September 2009



Ran GTPase has multiple functions during the cell division cycle, including nucleocytoplasmic transport, mitotic spindle assembly and nuclear envelope formation. The activity of Ran is determined by both its guanine nucleotide-bound state and its subcellular localization.


Here, we have characterised the localisation and mobility of Ran coupled to green fluorescent protein (GFP) during the cell cycle in live human cells. Ran-GFP is nuclear during interphase and is dispersed throughout the cell during mitosis. GFP-RanQ69L, a mutant locked in the GTP-bound state, is less highly concentrated in the nucleus and associates with nuclear pore complexes within the nuclear envelope. During mitosis, GFP-RanQ69L is excluded from chromosomes and localizes to the spindle. By contrast, GFP-RanT24N, a mutant with low affinity for nucleotides, interacts relatively stably with chromatin throughout the cell cycle and is highly concentrated on mitotic chromosomes.


These results show that Ran interacts dynamically with chromatin, nuclear pore complexes and the mitotic spindle during the cell cycle. These interactions are dependent on the nucleotide-bound state of the protein. Our data indicate that Ran-GTP generated at chromatin is highly mobile and interacts dynamically with distal structures that are involved in nuclear transport and mitotic spindle assembly.