[3H]Retinoic acid (RA) and [3H]retinol bind in an unsaturable manner to isolated nuclei from Nulli-SCC1 and PCC4.aza1R embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells. When nuclei are challenged with the same labeled retinoids on their respective binding proteins (CRABP and CRBP), much less binding is observed and the binding is saturable. RA-CRABP does not compete with [3H]retinol-CRBP for binding to specific Nulli-SCC1 nuclear sites, whereas retinol-CRBP (but not apo-CRBP) actually potentiates the binding of [3H]RA-CRABP to these nuclei. The binding of [3H]RA-CRABP and [3H]retinol-CRBP is not dramatically affected by prior removal of the outer nuclear membrane with Triton X-100. However, treatment with the detergent after the binding reaction is complete removes about half of the bound [3H]RA-CRABP and almost all of the bound [3H]retinol-CRBP. We measured specific retinoid-binding activities in nucleoplasmic extracts of Nulli-SCC1 and PCC4.aza1R cells. The only readily detectable specific binding activity in nucleoplasmic extracts from untreated cells was for [3H]retinol in PCC4.aza1R preparations. Nucleoplasmic extracts from Nulli-SCC1 and PCC4.aza1R cells pretreated with RA had considerable levels of specific [3H]RA-binding activity with little or no increase in [3H]retinol binding. By contrast, similar extracts from Nulli-SCC1 cells treated with retinol bound large amounts of both [3H]retinol and [3H]RA. Under the same conditions, PCC4.aza1R extracts also contained [3H]RA-binding activity with no increase in [3H]retinol binding above the high endogenous levels. Although these results might reflect translocation of binding proteins from cytoplasm to nucleus, other interpretations must be considered since we often observed an increase, rather than the expected reduction, in cytoplasmic retinoid-binding protein levels.

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