Nuclear accumulation of ZFP36L1 is cell cycle-dependent and determined by a C-terminal serine-rich cluster

J Biochem. 2020 Nov 1;168(5):477-489. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvaa072.


ZFP36L1 is an RNA-binding protein responsible for mRNA decay in the cytoplasm. ZFP36L1 has also been suggested as a nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling protein because it contains a potential nuclear localization signal and a nuclear export signal. However, it remains unclear how the nuclear localization of ZFP36L1 is controlled. In this study, we provide evidence that the nuclear accumulation of ZFP36L1 protein is modulated in a cell cycle-dependent manner. ZFP36L1 protein accumulation in fractionated nuclei was particularly prominent in cells arrested at G1-/S-phase boundary, while it was downregulated in S-phase cells, and eventually disappeared in G2-phase nuclei. Moreover, forced nuclear targeting of ZFP36L1 revealed marked downregulation of this protein in S- and G2-phase cells, suggesting that ZFP36L1 can be eliminated in the nucleus. The C-terminal serine-rich cluster of ZFP36L1 is critical for the regulation of its nuclear accumulation because truncation of this probable disordered region enhanced the nuclear localization of ZFP36L1, increased its stability and abolished its cell cycle-dependent fluctuations. These findings provide the first hints to the question of how ZFP36L1 nuclear accumulation is controlled during the course of the cell cycle.

Keywords: CCCH-zinc finger domain; ZFP36; cell cycle; intronic ARE; nuclear RNA-binding protein.

MeSH terms

  • Butyrate Response Factor 1 / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Female
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Localization Signals / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains
  • RNA Stability*
  • Serine / chemistry*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology


  • Butyrate Response Factor 1
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • ZFP36L1 protein, human
  • Serine