Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Daniel M. Sullivan, MD

Co-Major Professor

James R. Garey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard S. Pollenz, Ph.D.


topoisomerase II alpha, nuclear export signal, Crm-1, site-directed mutagenesis, microinjection


Resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs is a major obstacle in the treatment of leukemia and multiple myeloma. We have previously found that myeloma and leukemic cells in transition from low-density log phase conditions to high-density plateau phase conditions exhibit a substantial export of endogenous topoisomerase II alpha from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. In order for topoisomerase-targeted chemotherapy to function, the topoisomerase target must have access to the nuclear DNA. Therefore, the nuclear export of topoisomerase II alpha may contribute to drug resistance, and defining this mechanism may lead to methods to preclude this avenue of resistance. In the current report, we have defined nuclear export signals for topoisomerase II alpha at amino acids 1017-1028 and 1054-1066, using FITC labeled BSA-export signal peptide conjugates microinjected into the nuclei of HeLa cells. Functional confirmation of both signals (1017-1028 and 1054-1066) was provided by transfection of human myeloma cells with plasmids containing the gene for a full-length human FLAG-topoisomerase fusion protein, mutated at hydrophobic amino acid residues in the export signals. Of the six putative export signals tested, the two sites above were found to induce export into the cytoplasm. Export by both signals was blocked by treatment of the cells with leptomycin B, indicating that a CRM-1 dependent pathway mediates export. Site-directed mutagenesis of two central hydrophobic residues in either export signal in full-length human topoisomerase blocked export of recombinant FLAG-topoisomerase II alpha, indicating that both signals may be required for export. Interestingly, this pair of nuclear export signals (1017-1028 and 1054-1066) also defines a dimerization domain of the topoisomerase II alpha molecule.