Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 encodes a positive trans-activator protein, Tat, which is located predominantly in the cell nucleolus. To study the role of the basic region of Tat in nucleolar localization, we constructed fusion genes encoding serially deleted segments of Tat joined to the amino-terminal end of the Escherichia coli β-galactosidase molecule. We show that the basic region of Tat was sufficient for nuclear localization but not for nucleolar localization. Addition of three amino acids (59, 60, and 61) of the Tat sequence at the C-terminal end of the basic region was necessary for the chimeric β-galactosidase to localize in the nucleus as well as in the nucleolus. We demonstrate that a short amino acid sequence (G-48 RKKRRQRRRA HQ N-61), when fused to the amino terminus of β-galactosidase, can act as a nucleolar localization signal.
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