A cytoplasmically anchored mutant SV40 T antigen, FS T antigen, was shown previously to interfere specifically with the nuclear import of a heterologous nuclear protein, adenovirus 5 fiber protein, in cultured monkey cells (Schneider, J., C. Schindewolf, K. van Zee, and E. Fanning. 1988. Cell. 54:117-125; van Zee, K., F. Appel, and E. Fanning. 1991. Mol. Cell. Biol. 11:5137-5146). In this report, we demonstrate that FS T antigen also interferes with the nuclear import of adenovirus E1A and a peptide-albumin conjugate bearing multiple copies of the T antigen nuclear localization signal, but not with the import of U1 snRNA. A kinetic analysis indicates that nuclear import of the albumin-peptide conjugate is inhibited only when high intracellular concentrations of FS T antigen are reached. After microinjection into the cytoplasm of cultured cells, purified FS T antigen protein does not accumulate at the nuclear periphery, but rather is distributed in a punctate pattern throughout the cytoplasm. These data support a model in which cytoplasmic anchoring of FS T antigen enables the mutant protein to sequester and titrate out a cellular factor which is required for nuclear protein but not U1 snRNA import.

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