Factors important in the translocation process of proteins across the nuclear membrane were studied by microinjecting either fluoresceinated nonimmune IgG and F(ab)2 or the corresponding molecules, prepared from antisera to histones, into the nucleus and cytoplasm of human fibroblasts. Intact IgG from both preparations remained at the site of injection regardless of whether it was injected into the nucleus or the cytoplasm. In contrast, nonimmune F(ab)2 distributed uniformly throughout the cell. The F(ab)2 derived from affinity-pure antihistone moves into the nucleus after cytoplasmic injection and remains in the nucleus after nuclear microinjection. The migration of the antihistone F(ab)2 into the nucleus results in inhibition of uridine incorporation in the nuclei of the microinjected cells. We conclude that non-nuclear proteins, devoid of specific signal sequences, traverse the nuclear membrane and accumulate in the nucleus provided their radius of gyration is less than 55A and the nucleus contains binding sites for these molecules. These findings support the model of "quasibifunctional binding sites" as a driving force for nuclear accumulation of proteins. The results also indicate that active F(ab)2 fragments, microinjected into somatic cells, can bind to their antigenic sites suggesting that microinjection of active antibody fragments can be used to study the location and function of nuclear components in living cells.

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