Emerin is an integral protein of the inner nuclear membrane that is mutated or not expressed in patients with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy studies of the intracellular targeting of truncated forms of emerin, some of which are found in patients with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, show that the nucleoplasmic, amino-terminal domain is necessary and sufficient for nuclear retention. When this domain is fused to a transmembrane segment of an integral membrane protein of the ER/plasma membrane, the chimeric protein is localized in the inner nuclear membrane. The transmembrane segment of emerin is not targeted to the inner nuclear membrane. Fluorescence photobleaching experiments of emerin fused to green fluorescent protein demonstrate that the diffusional mobility (D) of emerin is decreased in the inner nuclear membrane (D=0.10+/-0.01 microm2/second) compared to the ER membrane (D=0.32+/-0.01 microm2/second). This is in agreement with a model where integral proteins reach the inner nuclear membrane by lateral diffusion and are retained there by association with nucleoplasmic components. Some overexpressed emerin-green fluorescent protein also reaches the plasma membrane of transfected cells, where its diffusion is similar to that in the inner nuclear membrane, suggesting that emerin may also associate with non-nuclear structures.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists