We describe the dynamic intracellular localization of Drosophila Pendulin and its role in the control of cell proliferation. Pendulin is a new member of a superfamily of proteins which contains Armadillo (Arm) repeats and displays extensive sequence similarities with the Srp1 protein from yeast, with RAG-1 interacting proteins from humans, and with the importin protein from Xenopus. Almost the entire polypeptide chain of Pendulin is composed of degenerate tandem repeats of approximately 42 amino acids each. A short NH2-terminal domain contains adjacent consensus sequences for nuclear localization and cdc2 kinase phosphorylation. The subcellular distribution of Pendulin is dependent on the phase of cell cycle. During interphase, Pendulin protein is exclusively found in the cytoplasm of embryonic cells. At the transition between G2 and M-phase, Pendulin rapidly translocates into the nuclei where it is distributed throughout the nucleoplasm and the areas around the chromosomes. In the larval CNS, Pendulin is predominantly expressed in the dividing neuroblasts, where it undergoes the same cell cycle-dependent redistribution as in embryos. Pendulin is encoded by the oho31 locus and is expressed both maternally and zygotically. We describe the phenotypes of recessive lethal mutations in the oho31 gene that result in a massive decrease or loss of zygotic Pendulin expression. Hematopoietic cells of mutant larvae overproliferate and form melanotic tumors, suggesting that Pendulin normally acts as a blood cell tumor suppressor. In contrast, growth and proliferation in imaginal tissues are reduced and irregular, resulting in abnormal development of imaginal discs and the CNS of the larvae. This phenotype shows that Pendulin is required for normal growth regulation. Based on the structure of the protein, we propose that Pendulin may serve as an adaptor molecule to form complexes with other proteins. The sequence similarity with importin indicates that Pendulin may play a role in the nuclear import of karyophilic proteins and some of these may be required for the normal transmission and function of proliferative signals in the cells.

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