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J Mol Biol. 1999 Apr 9;287(4):741-52.

Calcium-mediated structural changes of native nuclear pore complexes monitored by time-lapse atomic force microscopy.

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University of Basel, Basel, CH-4056, Switzerland.


Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are large macromolecular assemblies embedded in the double membrane nuclear envelope. They are the major gateways mediating transport of ions, small molecules, proteins, RNAs, and ribonucleoprotein particles in and out of the nucleus in interphase cells. Understanding structural changes at the level of individual pores will be a prerequisite to eventually correlate the molecular architecture of the NPC with its distinct functional states during nucleocytoplasmic transport. Toward this goal, we have employed time-lapse atomic force microscopy of native NPCs kept in buffer, and recorded calcium-mediated structural changes such as the opening (i.e. +Ca2+) and closing (i.e. -Ca2+) of individual nuclear baskets. Most likely, this structural change of the nuclear basket involves its distal ring which may act as an iris-like diaphragm. In order to directly correlate distinct structural features with corresponding functional states and dynamic aspects, we also addressed the question of whether the "central plug" or "transporter" actually represents a calcium-sensitive component of the NPC involved in mediating nucleocytoplasmic transport. Our data indicate that in the absence of ATP, cytoplasmic plugging/unplugging of the NPC is insensitive to calcium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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