It has previously been shown that efficient export of U1 snRNA or of microinjected, in vitro synthesized, RNA transcripts from the nucleus of Xenopus oocytes is facilitated by their monomethyl guanosine cap structures. Nuclear exit of these transcripts could be competitively inhibited by microinjection of an excess of a cap analog, the dinucleotide m7GpppG (Hamm, J., and I. W. Mattaj. 1990. Cell. 63:109-118). We have now analyzed the ability of several other related cap analogs to inhibit the export of U1 snRNA from the nucleus. The results define the recognition specificity of a factor(s) involved in RNA transport, and indicate that the cap binding activity (CBA) involved in RNA export is different from cap binding proteins (CBPs) involved in the initiation of translation. A CBP, whose specificity for different analogs correlates with the ability of the analogs to inhibit U1 snRNA export, is identified in nuclear extracts prepared from HeLa cells. We propose that this protein may have a role in the export of capped RNAs from the nucleus.

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