Synthetic peptides containing a region of SV 40 large T-antigen involved in nuclear localization direct the transport of proteins into the nucleus

Exp Cell Res. 1987 Jun;170(2):439-52. doi: 10.1016/0014-4827(87)90319-3.


We studied the mechanism of transport of proteins into the nucleus using synthetic peptides containing the nuclear location signal sequence of Simian virus 40 (SV 40) large T-antigen. When chick erythrocytes containing a synthetic large T-antigen nuclear translocation signal were fused with SV 40-transformed human fibroblasts, the migration of native large T-antigen into the chick nuclei was suppressed. Migration of proteins detected by human specific antinuclear autoimmune antibody was not blocked. An analog of the nuclear location signal peptide did not inhibit entry of large T-antigen into the chick nuclei. This result suggests that the peptide blocked the migration of only native large T-antigen into the nucleus, and that the signal of the majority of nuclear proteins for nuclear transport is not the same as that of the large T-antigen. The synthetic peptide was conjugated chemically with bovine serum albumin (BSA) and introduced into the cytoplasm of cultured human cells by red blood cell ghost-mediated microinjection. The BSA-synthetic peptide conjugate was found predominantly in the nucleus within 2 h after its introduction into the cells. BSA conjugated with the cross-linking reagent alone was not transported into the nucleus. Acetylated synthetic peptide was not effective in promoting nuclear localization of BSA. Mild trypsin treatment of the BSA-synthetic peptide conjugate suppressed nuclear localization. Conjugates of the synthetic peptide with phycoerythrin (Mr about 150 kD) and with secretory IgA (Mr about 380 kD) were both found in the nucleus very shortly after their introduction into the cytoplasm. These results suggest that the synthetic peptide containing the nuclear location signal sequence provides exogenous proteins with the ability to migrate into the nucleus. But, since a conjugate of the synthetic peptide with IgM (Mr about 940 kD) did not migrate into the nucleus after its microinjection, there may be a size limit in nuclear transport of conjugated proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Oligopeptides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor
  • Oligopeptides
  • Proteins
  • Viral Proteins