The carboxy-terminal tail of nucleoplasmin, which specifies entry into the cell nucleus, contains four short sequences that are similar to previously identified nuclear location sequences. We show that none of these is able to locate chicken muscle pyruvate kinase to the cell nucleus. Deletion analysis was used to determine the limits of a nuclear location sequence and indicated that a 14-amino acid segment (RPAATKKAGQAKKK) should function as a minimal nuclear location sequence. When tested directly, however, this sequence was unable to locate pyruvate kinase to the cell nucleus. Restoration of three amino acids of nucleoplasmin sequence at either end of this sequence generated sequences that were able to locate pyruvate kinase to the cell nucleus. The 14-amino acid proposed minimal nuclear location sequence is present in the functional sequences, AVKRPAATKKAGQAKKK, RPAATKKAGQAKKKKLD, and the sequence AVKRPAATKKAGQAKKKKLD, which has additional amino acids at both ends. The minimal sequence element is therefore necessary but not sufficient for transport into the cell nucleus. This unusual feature of the nucleoplasmin nuclear location sequence suggests ways in which it could interact with the nuclear transport mechanism.

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