Various classes of RNA are exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, including transcripts of RNA polymerase I (large ribosomal RNAs), II (U-rich small nuclear RNAs [U snRNAs], mRNAs), and III (tRNAs, 5S RNA). Here, evidence is presented that some steps in the export of various classes of nuclear RNA are mediated by specific rather than common factors. Using microinjection into Xenopus oocytes, it is shown that a tRNA, a U snRNA, and an mRNA competitively inhibit their own export at concentrations at which they have no effect on the export of heterologous RNAs. While the export of both U snRNAs and mRNAs is enhanced by their 7-methyl guanosine cap structures, factors recognizing this structure are found to be limiting in concentration only in the case of U snRNAs. In addition to the specific factors, evidence for steps in the export process that may be common to at least some classes of RNA are provided by experiments in which synthetic homopolymeric RNAs are used as inhibitors.

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