Nuclei of digitonin-permeabilized cells that had been preloaded with a model transport substrate in a cytosol-dependent import reaction were subsequently incubated to investigate which conditions would result in export of transport substrate. We found that up to 80% of the imported substrate was exported when recombinant human Ran and GTP were present in the export reaction. Ran-mediated export was inhibited by nonhydrolyzable GTP analogs and also by wheat germ agglutinin but was unaffected by a nonhydrolyzable ATP analog. Moreover, a recombinant human Ran mutant that was deficient in its GTPase activity inhibited export. These data indicate that export of proteins from the nucleus requires Ran and GTP hydrolysis but not ATP hydrolysis. We also found that digitonin-permeabilized cells were depleted of their endogenous nuclear Ran, thus allowing detection of Ran as a limiting factor for export. In contrast, most endogenous karyopherin alpha was retained in nuclei of digitonin-permeabilized cells. Unexpectedly, exogenously added, fluorescently labeled Ran, although it accessed the nuclear interior, was found to dock at the nuclear rim in a punctate pattern, suggesting the existence of Ran-binding sites at the nuclear pore complex
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