A critical step during gene expression is the directional export of nuclear messenger (m)RNA through nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) to the cytoplasm. During export, Gle1 in conjunction with inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6) spatially regulates the activity of the DEAD-box protein Dbp5 at the NPC cytoplasmic face. GLE1 mutations are causally linked to the human diseases lethal congenital contracture syndrome 1 (LCCS-1) and lethal arthrogryposis with anterior horn cell disease (LAAHD). Here, structure prediction and functional analysis provide strong evidence to suggest that the LCCS-1 and LAAHD disease mutations disrupt the function of Gle1 in mRNA export. Strikingly, direct fluorescence microscopy in living cells reveals a dramatic loss of steady-state NPC localization for GFP-gle1 proteins expressed from human gle1 genes harboring LAAHD and LCCS-1 mutations. The potential significance of these residues is further clarified by analyses of sequence and predicted structural conservation. This work offers insights into the perturbed mechanisms underlying human LCCS-1 and LAAHD disease states and emphasizes the potential impact of altered mRNA transport and gene expression in human disease.
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