The lamin B receptor (LBR) is a polytopic protein of the inner nuclear membrane. It is synthesized without a cleavable amino-terminal signal sequence and composed of a nucleoplasmic amino-terminal domain of 204 amino acids followed by a hydrophobic domain with eight putative transmembrane segments. To identify a nuclear envelope targeting signal, we have examined the cellular localization by immunofluorescence microscopy of chicken LBR, its amino-terminal domain and chimeric proteins transiently expressed in transfected COS-7. Full-length LBR was targeted to the nuclear envelope. The amino-terminal domain, without any transmembrane segments, was transported to the nucleus but excluded from the nucleolus. When the amino-terminal domain of LBR was fused to the amino-terminal side of a transmembrane segment of a type II integral membrane protein of the ER/plasma membrane, the chimeric protein was targeted to the nuclear envelope, likely the inner nuclear membrane. When the amino-terminal domain was deleted from LBR and replaced by alpha-globin, the chimeric protein was retained in the ER. These findings demonstrate that the amino-terminal domain of LBR is targeted to the nucleus after synthesis in the cytoplasm and that this polypeptide can function as a nuclear envelope targeting signal when located at the amino terminus of a type II integral membrane protein synthesized on the ER.

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