Cell Cycle-Dependent Nucleocytoplasmic Shuttling of the Neurofibromatosis 2 Tumour Suppressor Merlin

Oncogene. 2005 Feb 10;24(7):1150-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208283.


The neurofibromatosis 2 tumour suppressor merlin/schwannomin is structurally related to the ezrin-radixin-moesin family of proteins, which anchor actin cytoskeleton to specific membrane proteins and participate in cell signalling. Merlin inhibits cell growth with a yet unknown mechanism. As most tumour suppressors are linked to cell cycle control, we investigated merlin's behaviour during cell cycle. In glioma and osteosarcoma cells, endogenous merlin was targeted to the nucleus in a cell cycle-specific manner. Merlin accumulated perinuclearly at the G2/M phase, and shifted to the nucleus at early G1. During mitosis, merlin localized to mitotic spindles and at the contractile ring. Nuclear merlin was strongly reduced in confluent cells. Blocking of the CRM1/exportin nuclear export pathway led to accumulation of merlin in the nucleus. Activation of the p21-activated kinase or protein kinase A, which result in phosphorylation of merlin, did not affect its nuclear localization. Merlin regulates the activity of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) and nuclear localization of both proteins was induced by cell adhesion. Unlike ERK2, nuclear localization of merlin was not, however, dependent on intact actin cytoskeleton. These results link merlin to events related to cell cycle control and may help to resolve its tumour suppressor function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Glioma / chemistry
  • Glioma / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Karyopherins / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / analysis
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / physiology
  • Neurofibromin 2 / analysis
  • Neurofibromin 2 / metabolism*
  • Osteosarcoma / chemistry
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology
  • p21-Activated Kinases


  • Karyopherins
  • Neurofibromin 2
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • exportin 1 protein
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1