- Jeong SA, Kim K, Lee JH, Cha JS, Khadka P, Cho HS, Chung IK
- Akt-mediated phosphorylation increases the binding affinity of hTERT for importin alpha to promote nuclear translocation.
- J Cell Sci. 2015 Jun 15;128(12):2287-301. doi: 10.1242/jcs.166132. Epub 2015 May , 21.
- Telomeres are essential for chromosome integrity and protection, and their maintenance requires the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase. Previously, we have shown that human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) contains a bipartite nuclear localization signal (NLS; residues 222-240) that is responsible for nuclear import, and that Akt-mediated phosphorylation of residue S227 is important for efficient nuclear import of hTERT. Here, we show that hTERT binds to importin-alpha proteins through the bipartite NLS and that this heterodimer then forms a complex with importin-beta proteins to interact with the nuclear pore complex. Depletion of individual importin-alpha proteins results in a failure of hTERT nuclear import, and the resulting cytoplasmic hTERT is degraded by ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. Crystallographic analysis reveals that the bipartite NLS interacts with both the major and minor sites of importin-alpha proteins. We also show that Akt-mediated phosphorylation of S227 increases the binding affinity for importin-alpha proteins and promotes nuclear import of hTERT, thereby resulting in increased telomerase activity. These data provide details of a binding mechanism that enables hTERT to interact with the nuclear import receptors and of the control of the dynamic nuclear transport of hTERT through phosphorylation.