Dissection of the molecular mechanisms that control the nuclear accumulation of transport factors importin-alpha and CAS in stressed cells

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2008 Jun;65(11):1756-67. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-7588-2.


The physiological state of eukaryotic cells controls nuclear trafficking of numerous cargos. For example, stress results in the inhibition of classical protein import, which is characterized by the redistribution of several transport factors. As such, importin-alpha and cellular apoptosis susceptibility protein (CAS) accumulate in nuclei of heat-shocked cells; however, the mechanisms underlying this relocation are not fully understood. We now show that heat upregulates the initial docking of importin-alpha at the nuclear envelope and stimulates the translocation of CAS into the nuclear interior. Moreover, heat exposure compromises the exit of importin-alpha from nuclei and drastically increases its retention in the nucleoplasm, whereas CAS nuclear exit and retention are less affected. Taken together, our results support the idea that heat shock regulates importin-alpha and CAS nuclear accumulation at several levels. The combination of different stress-induced changes leads to the nuclear concentration of both transport factors in heat-stressed cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cellular Apoptosis Susceptibility Protein / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • alpha Karyopherins / metabolism*
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • Cellular Apoptosis Susceptibility Protein
  • alpha Karyopherins
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein