The C-terminal nuclear localization sequence of FUsed in Sarcoma (FUS-NLS) is critical for its nuclear import mediated by transportin (Trn1). Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) related mutations are clustered in FUS-NLS. We report here the structural, biochemical and cell biological characterization of the FUS-NLS and its clinical implications. The crystal structure of the FUS-NLS/Trn1 complex shows extensive contacts between the two proteins and a unique α-helical structure in the FUS-NLS. The binding affinity between Trn1 and FUS-NLS (wide-type and 12 ALS-associated mutants) was determined. As compared to the wide-type FUS-NLS (K(D) = 1.7 nM), each ALS-associated mutation caused a decreased affinity and the range of this reduction varied widely from 1.4-fold over 700-fold. The affinity of the mutants correlated with the extent of impaired nuclear localization, and more importantly, with the duration of disease progression in ALS patients. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the nuclear targeting mechanism of FUS and illustrates the significance of FUS-NLS in ALS.

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Published in PLoS ONE, v. 7, no. 10, e47056.

© Niu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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