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Retroviral Rem protein requires processing by signal peptidase and retrotranslocation for nuclear function

By Hyewon Byun, Nimita Halani, Jennifer A. Mertz, Almas F. Ali, Mary M. Lozano and Jaquelin P. Dudley


Mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) is a complex murine retrovirus that encodes an HIV Rev-like export protein, Rem, from a doubly spliced version of envelope (Env) mRNA. Previously, the N-terminal 98-amino acid sequence of Rem, which is identical to Env signal peptide (SP), and full-length Rem were shown to be functional in a reporter assay that measures a postexport function. Here we show that MMTV-infected cells or cells transfected with rem or env cDNAs express SP, which is the active component in the reporter assay. Uncleaved Rem was partially glycosylated, but mutations in both glycosylation sites within the C terminus prevented Rem function. Mutations that reduced Rem or Env cleavage by signal peptidase greatly reduced SP levels and functional activity in the reporter assay and allowed accumulation of the uncleaved protein. Fluorescence microscopy revealed that GFP-tagged cleavage-site mutants are unstable and lack fluorescence compared with wild-type Rem, suggesting improper folding. Proteasome inhibitors allowed accumulation of uncleaved Rem relative to SP and increased reporter activity, consistent with SP retrotranslocation and proteasome escape before nuclear entry. Expression of a dominant-negative p97 ATPase did not alter levels of unprocessed Rem and SP but decreased reporter activity, suggesting p97-facilitated retrotranslocation of SP. Our results provide an example of a SP that is processed by signal peptidase and retrotranslocated to allow nuclear localization and function

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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