Nuclear translocation and DNA recognition signals colocalized within the bZIP domain of cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate response element-binding protein CREB

Mol Endocrinol. 1991 Oct;5(10):1431-8. doi: 10.1210/mend-5-10-1431.


CREB is a cAMP-responsive nuclear DNA-binding protein that binds to cAMP response elements and stimulates gene transcription upon activation of the cAMP signalling pathway. The protein consists of an amino-terminal transcriptional transactivation domain and a carboxyl-terminal DNA-binding domain (bZIP domain) comprised of a basic region and a leucine zipper involved in DNA recognition and dimerization, respectively. Recently, we discovered a testis-specific transcript of CREB that contains an alternatively spliced exon encoding multiple stop codons. CREB encoded by this transcript is a truncated protein lacking the bZIP domain. We postulated that the antigen detected by CREB antiserum in the cytoplasm of germinal cells is the truncated CREB that must also lack its nuclear translocation signal (NTS). To test this hypothesis we prepared multiple expression plasmids encoding carboxyl-terminal deletions of CREB and transiently expressed them in COS-1 cells. By Western immunoblot analysis as well as immunocytochemistry of transfected cells, we show that CREB proteins truncated to amino acid 286 or shorter are sequestered in the cytoplasm, whereas a CREB of 295 amino acids is translocated into the nucleus. Chimeric CREBs containing a heterologous NTS fused to the first 248 or 261 amino acids of CREB are able to drive the translocation of the protein into the nucleus. Thus, the nine amino acids in the basic region involved in DNA recognition between positions 287 and 295 (RRKKKEYVK) of CREB contain the NTS. Further, mutation of the lysine at position 290 in CREB to an asparagine diminishes nuclear translocation of the protein.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Plasmids
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA Splicing*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transfection


  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Transcription Factors