Type II phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinases (PIPkins) have recently been found to be primarily phosphatidylinositol 5-phosphate 4-kinases, and their physiological role remains unclear. We have previously shown that a Type II PIPkin [isoform(s) unknown], is localized partly in the nucleus [Divecha, Rhee, Letcher and Irvine (1993) Biochem. J. 289, 617-620], and here we show, by transfection of HeLa cells with green-fluorescent-protein-tagged Type II PIPkins, that this is likely to be the Type IIβ isoform. Type IIβ PIPkin has no obvious nuclear localization sequence, and a detailed analysis of the localization of chimaeras and mutants of the α (cytosolic) and β PIPkins shows that the nuclear localization requires the presence of a 17-amino-acid length of α-helix (α-helix 7) that is specific to the β isoform, and that this helix must be present in its entirety, with a precise orientation. This resembles the nuclear targeting of the HIV protein Vpr, and Type IIβ PIPkin is apparently therefore the first example of a eukaryotic protein that uses the same mechanism.

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