Dynamic association of NUP98 with the human genome

PLoS Genet. 2013;9(2):e1003308. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003308. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Faithful execution of developmental gene expression programs occurs at multiple levels and involves many different components such as transcription factors, histone-modification enzymes, and mRNA processing proteins. Recent evidence suggests that nucleoporins, well known components that control nucleo-cytoplasmic trafficking, have wide-ranging functions in developmental gene regulation that potentially extend beyond their role in nuclear transport. Whether the unexpected role of nuclear pore proteins in transcription regulation, which initially has been described in fungi and flies, also applies to human cells is unknown. Here we show at a genome-wide level that the nuclear pore protein NUP98 associates with developmentally regulated genes active during human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Overexpression of a dominant negative fragment of NUP98 levels decreases expression levels of NUP98-bound genes. In addition, we identify two modes of developmental gene regulation by NUP98 that are differentiated by the spatial localization of NUP98 target genes. Genes in the initial stage of developmental induction can associate with NUP98 that is embedded in the nuclear pores at the nuclear periphery. Alternatively, genes that are highly induced can interact with NUP98 in the nuclear interior, away from the nuclear pores. This work demonstrates for the first time that NUP98 dynamically associates with the human genome during differentiation, revealing a role of a nuclear pore protein in regulating developmental gene expression programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Pore / metabolism
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins* / genetics
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins* / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins
  • Nup98 protein, human