The mammalian abasic-endonuclease1/redox-factor1 (APE1/Ref1) is an essential protein whose subcellular distribution depends on the cellular physiological status. However, its nuclear localization signals have not been studied in detail. We examined nuclear translocation of APE1, by monitoring enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) fused to APE1. APE1's nuclear localization was significantly decreased by deleting 20 amino acid residues from its N-terminus. Fusion of APE1's N-terminal 20 residues directed nuclear localization of EGFP. An APE1 mutant lacking the seven N-terminal residues (ND7 APE1) showed nearly normal nuclear localization, which was drastically reduced when the deletion was combined with the E12A/D13A double mutation. On the other hand, nearly normal nuclear localization of the full-length E12A/D13A mutant suggests that the first 7 residues and residues 8-13 can independently promote nuclear import. Both far-western analyses and immuno-pull-down assays indicate interaction of APE1 with karyopherin alpha 1 and 2, which requires the 20 N-terminal residues and implicates nuclear importins in APE1's nuclear translocation. Nuclear accumulation of the ND7 APE1(E12A/D13A) mutant after treatment with the nuclear export inhibitor leptomycin B suggests the presence of a previously unidentified nuclear export signal, and the subcellular distribution of APE1 may be regulated by both nuclear import and export.
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