Reversible nuclear translocation of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase upon serum depletion

Eur J Cell Biol. 2001 Jun;80(6):419-27. doi: 10.1078/0171-9335-00174.


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH; E.C. functions as a glycolytic enzyme within the cytoplasm, but beside its metabolic function it is involved in early steps of apoptosis, which trigger the translocation of GAPDH into the nucleus. As apoptosis can be induced by serum withdrawal, which otherwise causes cell cycle arrest, the linkage between serum deprivation, cell cycle and nuclear transport of GAPDH has been investigated. The intracellular distribution of GAPDH was monitored by confocal laser scanning microscopy of either immuno-stained NIH 3T3 fibroblasts or of cells overexpressing GFP-tagged GAPDH. Serum withdrawal led to an accumulation of GAPDH in the nucleus. In contrast to investigations published so far, this nuclear translocation was a reversible process: cytoplasmic location of endogenous GAPDH or of GFP-GAPDH could be recovered upon serum addition to arrested cells and was not inhibited by cycloheximide treatment. In addition, the nuclear import upon serum depletion had no influence neither on the catalytic activity nor on the expression level of GAPDH. The nuclear export of GFP-GAPDH in serum-deprived cells could be stimulated by serum or directly by the growth factors EGF or PDGE The transport process is not regulated via an initiation of cell cycle arrest, as olomoucine, which causes G1-arrest neither stimulated nuclear accumulation nor prevented nuclear export after serum addition to serum-depleted cultures. Moreover, SV40-transformed 3T3 cells transported GAPDH into the nucleus upon serum deprivation, though the expression of the viral large T-antigen enabled growth factor-independent cell proliferation in this cell line. The recruitment of GAPDH to the cytoplasm upon serum stimulation of arrested cells was not impaired by the inhibition of the MAPK signalling pathway with PD 098059. However, further analysis of the growth factor signalling pathway with specific inhibitors revealed that nuclear export was prevented by LY 294002, an inhibitor of the PI-3 kinase. PI3K links the growth factor signalling pathway with cell death via the repression of an apoptotic inducer. Thus, the nuclear accumulation of GAPDH upon growth factor depletion is a reversible process not related directly to cell cycle and likely triggered by survival signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells / cytology
  • 3T3 Cells / drug effects
  • 3T3 Cells / enzymology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blood Proteins / deficiency*
  • Cell Compartmentation / drug effects
  • Cell Compartmentation / physiology
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / enzymology*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / drug effects
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Indicators and Reagents / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • Blood Proteins
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Growth Substances
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases