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Nuclear export is an important process that not only regulates the functions of cellular factors but also facilitates the assembly of viral nucleoprotein complexes. Chromosome region maintenance 1 (CRM1) that mediates the transport of proteins bearing the classical leucine-rich nuclear export signal (NES) is the best-characterized nuclear export receptor. Recently, several CRM1-independent nuclear export pathways were also identified. The nuclear export of the large form of hepatitis delta antigen (HDAg-L), a nucleocapsid protein of hepatitis delta virus (HDV), which contains a CRM1-independent proline-rich NES, is mediated by the host NES-interacting protein (NESI). The mechanism of the NESI protein in mediating nuclear export is still unknown. In this study, NESI was characterized as a highly glycosylated membrane protein. It interacted and colocalized well in the nuclear envelope with lamin A/C and nucleoporins. Importantly, HDAg-L could be coimmunoprecipitated with lamin A/C and nucleoporins. In addition, binding of the cargo HDAg-L to the C terminus of NESI was detected for the wild-type protein but not for the nuclear export-defective HDAg-L carrying a P205A mutation [HDAg-L(P205A)]. Knockdown of lamin A/C effectively reduced the nuclear export of HDAg-L and the assembly of HDV. These data indicate that by forming complexes with lamin A/C and nucleoporins, NESI facilitates the CRM1-independent nuclear export of HDAg-L.  

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