Ribosomal subunits are assembled in the nucleus, and mature 40S and 60S subunits are exported stoichiometrically into the cytoplasm. The nuclear export of ribosomal subunits is a unidirectional, saturable and energy-dependent process. An in vitro assay for the nuclear export of 60S ribosomal subunits involves the use of resealed nuclear envelopes. The export of ribosomal subunits from resealed nuclear envelopes is enhanced by cytoplasmic proteins. Here we present evidence that the export-promoting activity was due to the cytoplasmic 90kDa heat-shock protein (Hsp90). Isolated, purified Hsp90 vastly enhanced the export of 60S ribosomal subunits from resealed nuclear envelopes, while inhibition of Hsp90 function, either with the Hsp90-binding drug geldanamycin or with anti-Hsp90 antibodies, resulted in reduced release of 60S ribosomal subunits. To confirm these findings under in vivo conditions, corresponding experiments were performed with Xenopus oocytes using microinjection techniques; the results obtained confirmed the findings obtained with resealed nuclear envelopes. These findings suggest that Hsp90 facilitates the nuclear export of 60S ribosomal subunits, probably by chaperoning protein interactions during the export process.

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