The mouse Polycomb group (PcG) protein M33 forms nuclear complexes with the products of other PcG members and maintains repressed states of developmentally important genes, including homeotic genes. In this context, nuclear localization is a prerequisite for M33 to exert its function. However, we previously found that M33 in mouse liver shuttles dynamically between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, depending on the proliferative states of cells, coupled with phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of M33 protein. To understand the mechanism and significance of this phenomenon, we identified the functional nuclear localization signal (NLS) of M33 protein. Deletion mutants that lack a particular one of three putative NLS motifs failed to localize in the nucleus. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused to this motif specifically localized in the nucleus. We conclude that this amino-acid stretch in M33 acts as the functional NLS for this protein.
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