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Characterization of Snail nuclear import pathways as representatives of C2H2 zinc finger transcription factors

AuthorsMingot, José Manuel; Vega, Sonia; Maestro, Beatriz; Sanz, Jesús M. ; Nieto, M. Ángela
Transcription factor
Zinc finger
Issue Date22-Apr-2009
PublisherCompany of Biologists
CitationJournal of Cell Science 122(9): 1452-1460 (2009)
AbstractSnail proteins are C2H2 class zinc finger transcription factors involved in different processes during embryonic development, as well as in several adult pathologies including cancer and organ fibrosis. The expression of Snail transcription factors is tightly regulated at the transcriptional level and their activity is modulated by their subcellular localization. Given the importance of this gene family in physiology and pathology, it is essential to understand the mechanisms by which Snail proteins are imported into or exported out of the nucleus. Here we show that several importins mediate the nuclear import of the human Snail proteins and we identify a unique nuclear localization signal (NLS), recognized by all the importins, that has been conserved during the evolution of the Snail family. This NLS is characterized by the presence of basic residues at defined positions in at least three consecutive zinc fingers. Interestingly, the consensus residues for importin-binding are also involved in DNA binding, suggesting that importins could prevent non-specific binding of these transcription factors to cytoplasmic polyanions. Importantly, the identified basic residues are also conserved in other families of C2H2 transcription factors whose nuclear localization requires the zinc finger region.
Description9 pages.-- PMID: 19386897 [PubMed].-- Printed version published May 1, 2009.
Supporting information (Suppl. fig S1) available at: http://jcs.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/122/9/1452/DC1
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.041749
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