Signals mediating nuclear targeting and their regulation: Application in drug delivery

David A. Jans, Chee Kai Chan, Stefan Huebner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


The recent progress with respect to understanding the signals mediating the transport of proteins in both directions through the NPC, and cellular proteins interacting with these signals to effect the transport process has made possible a number of advances in terms of the use of this information in a clinical setting. In particular, our knowledge of the mechanism of regulation of the process, and of how we may exploit the cellular transport machinery itself in a therapeutic situation, especially where there may be transport pathways specific to particular viruses, has advanced considerably. In this context, this review expounds current understanding of the signals conferring targeting to the nucleus, and their practical and potential use in delivering molecules of interest to the nucleus in a clinical context. It also deals with targeting signals conferring nuclear protein export/shuttling between nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments as well as with those conferring nuclear or cytoplasmic retention, and with the specific mechanisms regulating the activity of these signals, and in particular those regulating signal- dependent nuclear protein import. Detailed understanding of the processes of signal-mediated nuclear protein import/export and its regulation enables the considered application and optimization of approaches to target molecules of interest, such as plasmid DNA or toxic molecules, efficiently to the nucleus according to need in a clinical or research context, and enhance the expression or efficiency of their action, respectively. The use of nuclear targeting signals in this context is reviewed, and future possibilities in terms of the application of our growing understanding of nuclear transport and its regulation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-223
Number of pages35
JournalMedicinal Research Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998


  • Cytoplasmic retention
  • DNA delivery
  • Exportin
  • Importin
  • Nonviral
  • Nuclear export sequences
  • Nuclear localization sequences
  • Nuclear retention
  • Nuclear targeting
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitizer
  • Shuttle sequences
  • Transportin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

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