Nuclear localization of Ku antigen is promoted independently by basic motifs in the Ku70 and Ku80 subunits
Journal of Cell Science
The Ku antigen is a heteromeric (Ku70/Ku80), mostly nuclear protein. Ku participates in multiple nuclear processes from DNA repair to V(D)J recombination to telomere maintenance to transcriptional regulation and serves as a DNA binding subunit and allosteric regulator of DNA-dependent protein kinase. While some evidence suggests that subcellular localization of Ku may be subject to regulation, how Ku gains access to the nucleus is poorly understood. In this work, using a combination of indirect
... ination of indirect immunofluorescence and direct fluorescence, we have demonstrated that transfer of the Ku heterodimer to the nucleus is determined by basic nuclear localization signals in each of the Ku subunits that function independently. A bipartite basic nuclear localization signal between amino acids 539-556 of Ku70 was observed to be required for nuclear import of full-length Ku70 monomer, while a short Ku80 motif of four amino acids from 565-568 containing three lysines was required for the nuclear import of full-length Ku80. Ku heterodimers containing only one nuclear localization signal accumulated in the nucleus as efficiently as wild-type Ku, while site directed mutagenesis inactivating the basic motifs in each subunit, resulted in a Ku heterodimer that was completely localized to the cytoplasm. Lastly, our results indicate that mutations in Ku previously proposed to abrogate Ku70/Ku80 heterodimerization, markedly reduced the accumulation of Ku70 without affecting heterodimer formation in mammalian cells.