Xenopus laevis oocytes have been used to determine the intracellular localization of components of Ro ribonucleoprotein particles (Ro RNPs) and to study the assembly of these RNA-protein complexes. Microinjection of the protein components of human Ro RNPs, i.e., La, Ro60, and Ro52, in X. laevis oocytes showed that all three proteins are able to enter the nucleus, albeit with different efficiencies. In contrast, the RNA components of human Ro RNPs (the Y RNAs) accumulate in the X. laevis cytoplasm upon injection. Localization studies performed at low temperatures indicated that both nuclear import of Ro RNP proteins and nuclear export of Y RNAs are mediated by active transport mechanisms. Immunoprecipitation experiments using monospecific anti-La and anti-Ro60 antibodies showed that the X. laevis La and Ro60 homologues were cross-reactive with the respective antibodies and that both X. laevis proteins were able to interact with human Y1 RNA. Further analyses indicated that: (a) association of X. laevis La and Ro60 with Y RNAs most likely takes place in the nucleus; (b) once formed, Ro RNPs are rapidly exported out of the nucleus; and (c) the association with La is lost during or shortly after nuclear export.

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