Two novel LEM-domain proteins are splice products of the annotated Drosophila melanogaster gene CG9424 (Bocksbeutel).
The LEM motif is a sequence of 40-50 amino acids that has been identified in a number of non-related proteins of the inner nuclear membrane including the lamina-associated polypeptides 2 (LAP2), emerin, MAN1 and the Drosophila protein otefin. This evolutionary conserved sequence motif can mediate via the interaction with the small protein BAF the binding of LEM-domain proteins to DNA. Taking advantage of its sequenced genome we analyzed whether Drosophila possesses beside otefin additional genes coding for proteins with a LEM motif. A putative candidate gene was the annotated gene CG9424 which we named Bocksbeutel. Of all putative Drosophila LEM-domain proteins, otefin and Bocksbeutel exhibited the highest similarity in the LEM motif (53% identical amino acids). The Bocksbeutel gene can code for two isoforms of 399 and 351 amino acids that are produced by alternative splicing. In the alpha-isoform a transmembrane domain is localized close to the carboxyterminus. This segment is absent in the shorter beta-isoform. By RT-PCR we could show that in the embryo the mRNA coding for the alpha-isoform and in significantly lower amounts the mRNA coding for the beta-isoform are expressed. When expressed in transfected cells as GFP fusion proteins, the beta-isoform is localized predominantly in the nucleoplasm and the alpha-isoform is targeted to the nuclear envelope, indicating that Bocksbeutel-alpha is localized in the inner nuclear membrane. Bocksbeutel-alpha is the predominant isoform expressed in cells, larvae, and flies. Indirect immunofluorescence with Bocksbeutel-specific antibodies on tissues and cultured cells revealed that Bocksbeutel proteins are localized in the nuclear envelope and in the cytoplasm. By RNA interference we have down-regulated the expression of Bocksbeutel, BAF, otefin, and lamin DmO in Drosophila Kc167 cells. The down-regulation of Bocksbeutel and otefin had no influence on the viability of Kc167 cells and the intracellular localization of all other nuclear and nuclear envelope proteins analyzed. In contrast, when lamin DmO was reduced by RNAi the distribution of Bocksbeutel and otefin in the nuclear envelope of Kc167 cells was significantly altered. We conclude that the two LEM-domain proteins Bocksbeutel and otefin are no limiting components for the maintenance of the nuclear architecture in cultured Drosophila cells at interphase.
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