The matrix (M) protein of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent inhibitor of bidirectional nuclear transport. Here we demonstrate that inhibition occurs when M protein is in the nucleus of Xenopus laevis oocytes and that M activity is readily reversed by a monoclonal antibody (alphaM). We identify a region of M protein, amino acids 51 to 59, that is required both for inhibition of transport and for efficient recognition by alphaM. When expressed in transfected HeLa cells, M protein colocalizes with nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) at the nuclear rim. Moreover, mutation of a single amino acid, methionine 51, eliminates both transport inhibition and targeting to NPCs. We propose that M protein inhibits bidirectional transport by interacting with a component of the NPC or an NPC-associated factor that participates in nucleocytoplasmic transport.
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