Three Distinct Domains Contribute to Nuclear Transport of Murine Foxp3

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Three Distinct Domains Contribute to Nuclear Transport of Murine Foxp3

Public Library of Science
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007890
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Research Article
  • Cell Biology/Leukocyte Signaling And Gene Expression
  • Immunology/Immune Response
  • Immunology/Autoimmunity
  • Molecular Biology/Post-Translational Regulation Of Gene Expression


Foxp3, a 47-kDa transcription factor, is necessary for the function of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), with an essential role in the control of self-reactive T cells and in preventing autoimmunity. Activation of Tregs by TCR engagement results in upregulation of Foxp3 expression, followed by its rapid nuclear transport and binding to chromatin. Here, we identify three distinct Foxp3 domains that contribute to nuclear transport. The first domain (Domain 1) comprises the C-terminal 12 amino acids. The second domain (Domain 2) is located immediately N-terminal to the forkhead domain (FHD), recently reported to be a binding site for the runt-related transcription factor 1/acute myeloid leukemia 1 (Runx1/AML1). The third domain (Domain 3) is located within the N-terminal first 51 amino acids. Unlike the known nuclear localization signals (NLSs), none of these three regions are rich in basic residues and do not bear any similarity to known monopartite or bipartite NLSs that have one or more clusters of basic amino acids. The basic arginine-lysine-lysine-arginine (RKKR) sequence, located 12-aa from the C-terminal end of Foxp3 was previously reported to be a nuclear localization signal (NLS) for several proteins, including for a GFP-Foxp3 hybrid. Evidence is provided here that in the full-length native Foxp3 RKKR does not function as an NLS. The data reported in this study indicates that Foxp3 achieves nuclear transport by binding to other nuclear factors and co-transporting with them to the nucleus.

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