Scientific reports

Dual mechanisms regulate the nucleocytoplasmic localization of human DDX6.

PMID 28216671


DDX6 is a conserved DEAD-box protein (DBP) that plays central roles in cytoplasmic RNA regulation, including processing body (P-body) assembly, mRNA decapping, and translational repression. Beyond its cytoplasmic functions, DDX6 may also have nuclear functions because its orthologues are known to localize to nuclei in several biological contexts. However, it is unclear whether DDX6 is generally present in human cell nuclei, and the molecular mechanism underlying DDX6 subcellular distribution remains elusive. In this study, we showed that DDX6 is commonly present in the nuclei of human-derived cells. Our structural and molecular analyses deviate from the current model that the shuttling of DDX6 is directly mediated by the canonical nuclear localization signal (NLS) and nuclear export signal (NES), which are recognized and transported by Importin-α/β and CRM1, respectively. Instead, we show that DDX6 can be transported by 4E-T in a piggyback manner. Furthermore, we provide evidence for a novel nuclear targeting mechanism in which DDX6 enters the newly formed nuclei by "hitch-hiking" on mitotic chromosomes with its C-terminal domain during M phase progression. Together, our results indicate that the nucleocytoplasmic localization of DDX6 is regulated by these dual mechanisms.