Characterization of the interactions between soluble factors required for nuclear transport is key to understanding the process of nuclear trafficking. Using a synthetic lethal screen with the rna1-1 strain, we have identified a genetic interaction between Rna1p, a GTPase activating protein required for nuclear transport, and yeast importin-beta, a component of the nuclear localization signal receptor. By the use of fusion proteins, we demonstrate that Rna1p physically interacts with importin-beta. Mutants in importin-beta exhibit in vivo nuclear protein import defects, and importin-beta localizes to the nuclear envelope along with other proteins associated with the nuclear pore complex. In addition, we present evidence that importin-alpha, but not importin-beta, mislocalizes to the nucleus in cells where the GTPase Ran is likely to be in the GDP-bound state. We suggest a model of nuclear transport in which Ran-mediated hydrolysis of GTP is necessary for the import of importin-alpha and the nuclear localization signal-bearing substrate into the nucleus, while exchange of GDP for GTP on Ran is required for the export of both mRNA and importin-alpha from the nucleus.

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