PloS one

A CRM1-mediated nuclear export signal is essential for cytoplasmic localization of neurogenin 3 in neurons.

PMID 23383123


Neurogenin 3 (Ngn3), a proneural gene, regulates dendritogenesis and synaptogenesis in mouse hippocampal neurons. Ngn3 is transiently exported from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm when neuronal polarity is initiated, suggesting that the nucleo-cytoplasmic transport of the protein is important for its action on neuronal development. In this study, we identified for the first time a functional nuclear export sequence (NES2; ¹³¹YIWALTQTLRIA¹⁴²) in Ngn3. The green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-NES2 fusion protein was localized in the cytoplasm and its nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling was blocked by the CRM1 specific export inhibitor leptomycin B. Mutation of a leucine residue to alanine (L135A) in the NES2 motif resulted in both cytoplasmic and nuclear localization of the EGFP-NES2 fusion protein and in the nuclear accumulation of ectopic full-length myc-Ngn3. In addition, point mutation of the leucine 135 counteracted the effects of Ngn3 on neuronal morphology and synaptic inputs indicating that the cytoplasmic localization of Ngn3 is important for neuronal development. Pharmacological perturbation of the cytoskeleton revealed that cytoplasmic Ngn3 is associated with microtubules.