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Open Access Research article

Identification and functional analysis of NOL7 nuclear and nucleolar localization signals

Guolin Zhou, Colleen L Doçi and Mark W Lingen*

Author Affiliations

Departments of Pathology, Medicine and Radiation and Cellular Oncology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-74

Published: 27 September 2010

Abstract

Background

NOL7 is a candidate tumor suppressor that localizes to a chromosomal region 6p23. This locus is frequently lost in a number of malignancies, and consistent loss of NOL7 through loss of heterozygosity and decreased mRNA and protein expression has been observed in tumors and cell lines. Reintroduction of NOL7 into cells resulted in significant suppression of in vivo tumor growth and modulation of the angiogenic phenotype. Further, NOL7 was observed to localize to the nucleus and nucleolus of cells. However, the mechanisms regulating its subcellular localization have not been elucidated.

Results

An in vitro import assay demonstrated that NOL7 requires cytosolic machinery for active nuclear transport. Using sequence homology and prediction algorithms, four putative nuclear localization signals (NLSs) were identified. NOL7 deletion constructs and cytoplasmic pyruvate kinase (PK) fusion proteins confirmed the functionality of three of these NLSs. Site-directed mutagenesis of PK fusions and full-length NOL7 defined the minimal functional regions within each NLS. Further characterization revealed that NLS2 and NLS3 were critical for both the rate and efficiency of nuclear targeting. In addition, four basic clusters within NLS2 and NLS3 were independently capable of nucleolar targeting. The nucleolar occupancy of NOL7 revealed a complex balance of rapid nucleoplasmic shuttling but low nucleolar mobility, suggesting NOL7 may play functional roles in both compartments. In support, targeting to the nucleolar compartment was dependent on the presence of RNA, as depletion of total RNA or rRNA resulted in a nucleoplasmic shift of NOL7.

Conclusions

These results identify the minimal sequences required for the active targeting of NOL7 to the nucleus and nucleolus. Further, this work characterizes the relative contribution of each sequence to NOL7 nuclear and nucleolar dynamics, the subnuclear constituents that participate in this targeting, and suggests a functional role for NOL7 in both compartments. Taken together, these results identify the requisite protein domains for NOL7 localization, the kinetics that drive this targeting, and suggest NOL7 may function in both the nucleus and nucleolus.