Karyopherin alpha 3 and Karyopherin alpha 4 Mediate Nuclear Import of Methyl-CpG Binding Protein 2 [Neurobiology]

August 5th, 2015 by Baker, S. A., Lombardi, L. M., Zoghbi, H. Y.

Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) is a nuclear protein with important roles in regulating chromatin structure and gene expression and mutations in MECP2 cause Rett syndrome (RTT). Within the MeCP2 protein sequence, the nuclear localization signal (NLS) is reported to reside between amino acids 255-271 and certain RTT causing mutations overlap with the MeCP2 NLS, suggesting they may alter nuclear localization. One such mutation, R270X, is predicted to interfere with the localization of MeCP2, but recent in vivo studies have demonstrated that this mutant remains entirely nuclear. In order to clarify the mechanism of MeCP2 nuclear import, we isolated proteins that interact with the NLS and identified karyopherin alpha 3 (KPNA3 or Kap-α3) and karyopherin alpha 4 (KPNA4 or Kap-α4) as key binding partners of MeCP2. MeCP2-R270X did not interact with KPNA4 consistent with a requirement for an intact NLS in this interaction, however this mutant retains binding to KPNA3 accounting for the normal localization of MeCP2-R270X to the nucleus. These data provide a mechanism for MeCP2 nuclear import and have implications for the design of therapeutics aimed at modulating the function of MeCP2 in RTT patients.